Misuse Of Prescription Opioids Has More Than Doubled In the US In the Past Decade

An increasing number of people in the US are not following prescription guidelines when using opioid painkillers. Arman Zhenikeyev/Shutterstock

As a consequences of the nationwide increase in NMPOU, the number of people displaying symptoms of nonmedical prescription opioid use disorder (NMPOUD) has also skyrocketed. Symptoms of this condition include building up a tolerance to prescription opioids, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drugs, and failure to fulfil key responsibilities at work, school or home as a direct result of opioid use.

According to the figures, which were collected as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III), 0.4 percent of US adults experienced NMPOUD in 2001 to 2002, while 1.4 percent had developed symptoms at any point in their lives. By 2012-13, past-year NMPOUD rates had risen to 0.9 percent, while lifetime rates were 2.1 percent.

Though the reasons for this shocking trend are not yet clear, the researchers suspect it may be the consequence of a combination of factors, such as an increase in prescriptions and a general lack of understanding over the addictive potential of opioid drugs.

Misusing prescription opioids can lead to addiction and even fatal overdoses. Pop Paul-Catalin/Shutterstock

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