Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use Among Adults: United States, 1999–2012

February 25, 2015

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%).

 


Trends in Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics and Heroin: United States, 1999–2012

December 2, 2014

A new NCHS Health E-Stat provides information on annual rates of all drug-poisoning deaths and drug-poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics and heroin for 1999 through 2012 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System.

In 2012, there were 41,502 deaths due to drug poisoning (often referred to as drug-overdose deaths) in the United States, of which 16,007 involved opioid analgesics and 5,925 involved heroin.

From 1999 through 2012, the age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rate nationwide more than doubled, from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012. During the same period, the age-adjusted rates for drug-poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics more than tripled, from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.1 in 2012. Opioid-analgesic death rates increased at a fast pace from 1999 through 2006, with an average increase of about 18% each year, and then at a slower pace from 2006 forward. The decline in opioid-analgesic death rates from 2011 through 2012, a decline of 5%, is the first decrease seen in more than a decade.

Also from 1999 through 2012, the age-adjusted rates for drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin nearly tripled, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 1.9 in 2012. The rates increased substantially beginning in 2006. Between 2011 and 2012, the rate of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased 35%, from 1.4 per 100,000 to 1.9.

In 2012, 14 states had age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rates that were significantly higher than the overall U.S. rate. The states with the highest rates per 100,000 population were West Virginia (32.0), Kentucky (25.0), New Mexico (24.7), Utah (23.1), and Nevada (21.0).