Study: Abuse of Painkillers Increases in U.S

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicole Ostrow Bloomberg News

Taking prescription painkillers without a medical need increased 75 percent from 2002 to 2010, and most users were men, according to the first study to look at who is likely to abuse the drugs and how often it occurs.

Men and people ages 26 to 49 saw the largest increase in nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, taking the drugs 200 or more days a year, according to a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine. More than 15,500 people overdosed on pills such as OxyContin and Vicodin and died in 2009, more than double since 2002, the paper said.

While national estimates of nonmedical use of the painkillers has remained unchanged since 2002, the statistics included people who took the drugs once or twice to chronic users, the paper said. The latest findings are the first to review the frequency of nonmedical use of the painkiller and quantify who is abusing them, said Christopher Jones, the study author.

"Chronic nonmedical use is increasing, and these drugs have very dangerous risks," said Jones, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Injury Center in Atlanta. …