Near-daily misuse of painkillers up 75% since 2002

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 9, 2012

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The rate of chronic nonmedical use of prescription painkillers such as opioids and barbiturates rose 75% from 2002 to 2010, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine research letter published online June 25.

Nearly 1 million Americans each used prescription pain relievers nonmedically for 200 days or more during 2009 and 2010, said the study, which drew on a nationwide annual survey of Americans 12 and older. About 2% of Americans, or roughly 4.6 million people, misused the drugs for 30 days or more during the previous year, the study said (link).

“Combined with continued increases in opioid pain reliever morbidity and mortality, these findings underscore the need for concerted public health and public safety action to prevent nonmedical use of these drugs,” wrote study author Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, MPH, who works in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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