En español
NIDA

Pain relief most reported reason for misuse of opioid pain relievers

Study suggests need for improved access to evidence-based pain management

July 31, 2017

Pills and pill bottlePhoto by ©iStock/dptulk

More than one third of adults nationwide reported prescription opioid use in 2015, with substantial numbers reporting misuse and use disorders, according to a report compiled to estimate the prevalence of, and explore the motivations for, opioid use and misuse. The data showed that pain relief was most commonly cited as the reason for the misuse of opioids and that close to half of those who misused obtained them free from a family member or friend.

According to the study, based on data collected from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 92 million people (38 percent) used prescription opioids in the prior year. Of these, about 11.5 million misused the drugs, and 1.9 million had an opioid use disorder. Most people (63.4 percent) who misused these medications reported doing so to relieve physical pain. About 41 percent who misused opioids obtained them for free from a friend or relative. Misuse is defined as use of a medication without a prescription, for a reason other than as directed by a physician, or in greater amounts, more often, or longer than prescribed.

The results suggest a need to improve access to evidence-based pain management and to decrease excessive prescribing that may leave unused opioids available for potential misuse. This research could help inform strategies to address prescription opioid misuse and overdose deaths, as well as other related health and social problems. The results also indicate that economic disadvantage and behavioral health problems may be associated with prescription opioid misuse.

For a copy of the paper go to — "Prescription Opioid Use, Misuse, and Use Disorders in U.S. Adults: 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health" — published in Annals of Internal Medicine,  It was authored by scientists from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is part of the National Institutes of Health, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which conducted the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, is also part of HHS.

For information about opioids, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH. . .Turning Discovery Into Health®

News Releases

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

Get this Publication

    Cite this article

    NIDA. (2017, July 31). Pain relief most reported reason for misuse of opioid pain relievers. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/07/pain-relief-most-reported-reason-misuse-opioid-pain-relievers

    press ctrl+c to copy
    Receive Latest Science Articles in your Email!
    You will only receive messages related to Latest Science