Opiates

By

Concern about the abuse of prescription painkillers has risen

dramatically in the U.S. Of particular concern is the abuse

Concern about the abuse of prescription painkillers has risen dramatically in the U.S. Of particular concern is the abuse of pain medications containing opiates

of pain medications containing opiates (also known as narcotic

analgesics), marketed under such brand names as Vicodin, OxyContin,

Percocet, Demerol, and Darvon. According to the Drug Abuse Warning

Network (DAWN), the incidence of emergency department (ED) visits

related to narcotic analgesic abuse has been increasing in the

U.S. since the mid-1990s, and more than doubled between 1994

and 2001.

• In 2001, there were an estimated 90,232

ED visits related to narcotic analgesic abuse, a 117 percent

increase since 1994.

• Nationally, narcotic analgesics

were involved in 14 percent of all drug abuse-related ED

visits in 2001.

• In 2001, approximately one-third of the

narcotic analgesics reported to DAWN were not specified by

name (32,196 mentions). Among the named narcotic analgesics, hydrocodone

led with 21,567 mentions, followed by oxycodone (18,409 mentions).

• Oxycodone mentions increased 70 percent from 2000 to

2001, compared to the 186 percent surge in mentions from

1999 to 2000. However, mentions of most narcotic analgesics did not

increase from 2000 to 2001.

• From 1994 to 2001, the

only narcotic analgesic that declined was codeine. Mentions

decreased 61 percent, from 9,439 to 3,720.

• Dependence

was the most frequently mentioned motive for narcotic analgesic

abuse cases (38,941), followed by suicide (24,576), psychic effects (13,949),

unknown motive (11,039), and other motives (1,727).

• In 2001, the average age was 37 for patients

who attended the ED because of narcotic analgesic abuse.

Source: U.S. Department

of Health and Human Service. Office of Applied Studies, Substance

Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2003,

January 1). The DAWN Report: Narcotic Analgesics (January

2003 ed.)

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