Assessment of the Trends in Medical Use and Misuse of Opioid Analgesics from 2004 to 2011

Click to access 2014;17;E119-E128.pdf

Results: From 2004 to 2011, there was an increase in the medical use of all opioids except for a 20% decrease in codeine. The abuse of all opioids including codeine increased during this period. Increases in medical use ranged from 2,318% for buprenorphine to 35% for fentanyl, including 140% for hydromorphone, 117% for oxycodone, 73% for hydrocodone, 64% for morphine, and 37% for methadone. The misuse increased 384% for buprenorphine with available data from 2006 to 2011, whereas from 2004 to 2011, it increased 438% for hydromorphone, 263% for oxycodone, 146% for morphine, 107% for hydrocodone, 104% for fentanyl, 82% for methadone, and 39% for codeine. Comparison of opioid use showed an overall increase of 1,448% from 1996 to 2011, with increases if 690% from 1996 to 2004 and 100% from 2004 to 2011. In contrast, misuse increased more dramatically: 4,680% from 1996 to 2011, with increases of 1,372% from 1996 through 2004 and 245% from 2004 to 2011. The number of patients seeking rehabilitation for substance abuse also increased 187% for opioids, whereas it increased 87% for heroin, 40% for marijuana, and decreased 7% for cocaine.

This all looks very alarming, until you consider that the definitions for “abuse” and “misuse” are probably very, very wide, and include a much larger population of patients than are actually having these problems.

The growing epidemic of the medical use and abuse of opioid analgesics is closely linked to the
economic burden of opioid-related abuse and fatalities in the United States, and continues despite the alleged undertreatment of pain…

Alleged?  I stopped reading here.

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