Association of household opioid availability and prescription opioid initiation among household members

Marissa J. Seamans, Timothy S. Carey, Daniel J. Westreich, Stephen R. Cole, Stephanie B. Wheeler, G. Caleb Alexander, Virginia Pate, M. Alan Brookhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE Increases in prescription opioid use in the United States have been attributed to changing prescribing guidelines and attitudes toward pain relief; however, the spread of opioid use within households through drug diversion may also be a contributing factor. OBJECTIVE To investigate whether individuals living in a household with a prescription opioid user are more likely to initiate prescription opioids themselves, compared with individuals in households with a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) user. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This was a retrospective cohort study using administrative health care claims data from 2000 to 2014 of commercial insurance beneficiaries sharing a health plan with continuous prescription drug coverage, without opioid or NSAID use in the prior year. Enrollees were followed from the date of the first prescription filled by a household member for an eligible opioid or NSAID until initiation of prescription opioids, disenrollment, or administrative censoring after 1 year or the end of follow-up on December 31, 2014. Risk of opioid initiation was derived from inverse probability-weighted (IPW) Kaplan-Meier estimators that adjusted for potential confounders, prognostic factors, and predictors of censoring. EXPOSURE Outpatient pharmacy dispensing of a prescription opioid or prescription NSAID. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Incident outpatient pharmacy fill for a prescription opioid by a household member. RESULTS From 2000 to 2014, 12 695 280 individuals were exposed to prescription opioids and 6 359 639 to prescription NSAIDS through an index prescription to a household member. The IPW estimated risk of opioid initiation in the subsequent year was 11.83% (95% CI, 11.81%-11.85%) among individuals exposed to prescription opioids in the household, compared with 11.11% (95% CI, 11.09%-11.14%) among individuals exposed to prescription NSAIDs, resulting in a risk difference of 0.71% (95% CI, 0.68%-0.74%). An unmeasured confounder that is modestly associated with the exposure (eg, prevalence difference = 0.9%) and the outcome (eg, risk difference = 0.9) after adjustment for all measured variables could explain our observed estimate of the overall risk difference (0.71%). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Living in a household with a prescription opioid user may increase risk of prescription opioid use, which may reflect both increased access to these products as well as shared risk factors, such as prescriber preference and prescription drug monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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