Prescription opioid analgesics are used to treat pain from surgery, injury, and health conditions such as cancer. Opioid dependence and opioid-related deaths are growing public health problems. Opioid analgesic sales (in kilograms per 10,000) quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, and from 1999 to 2012, opioid-related deaths (per 100,000) more than tripled. During 1999–2002, 4.2% of persons aged 18 and over used a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days.
A new NCHS report provides updated estimates and trends in prescription opioid analgesic use among adults aged 20 and over, overall and by selected subgroups.
Key Findings from the Report:
- From 1999–2002 to 2003–2006, the percentage of adults aged 20 and over who used a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days increased from 5.0% to 6.9%. From 2003–2006 to 2011–2012, the percentage who used an opioid analgesic remained stable at 6.9%.
- From 1999–2002 to 2011–2012, the percentage of opioid analgesic users who used an opioid analgesic stronger than morphine increased from 17.0% to 37.0%.
- During 2007–2012, the use of opioid analgesics was higher among women (7.2%) than men (6.3%).
- During 2007–2012, the use of opioid analgesics was higher among non-Hispanic white adults (7.5%) compared with Hispanic adults (4.9%). There was no significant difference in use between non-Hispanic white adults and non-Hispanic black adults (6.5%).