National trends in long-term use of prescription opioids

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46 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined recent trends and correlates of prescription opioid use and long-term use in the United States. Methods: Data were from 47 356 adult participants of National Health and Nutrition Survey from 1999-2000 to 2013-2014. Participants were asked about prescription medications used in the past 30 days. Long-term use of prescription opioids was defined by use for 90 days or longer. Results: The prevalence of prescription opioid use increased from 4.1% of US adults in 1999-2000 to 6.8% in 2013-2014 (odds ratio [OR] = 1.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.10-1.75, P = .007). This trend was driven by a sharp increase in long-term use which increased from 1.8% to 5.4% (OR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.65-3.00, P < .001). Of all opioid users in 2013-2014, 79.4% were long-term users compared with 45.1% in 1999-2000. Long-term use was associated with poorer physical health, concurrent benzodiazepine use, and history of heroin use. Conclusions: The findings highlight the need for research on potential benefits and harms of long-term use of opioids and efforts to restrict long-term use to patients for whom the benefits outweigh the risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Drug utilization study
  • National surveys
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Prescription opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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