Nearly A Quarter of U.S. Adults With Chronic Pain Used Opioids In The Last Three Months: Study
Despite efforts to curb the use of powerful and addictive pain killers, the findings of a new study suggest that nearly one out of four adults in the U.S. with chronic pain received an opioid prescription in 2019.
Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report nearly a quarter of chronic pain sufferers in the U.S. uses narcotic painkillers like Vicodin or Norco, according to findings published on August 5 in National Center for Health Statistics Reports.
Data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey was compiled to determine the prevalence of prescription opioid use in a three month period among adults over 18 and with chronic pain.
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According to the findings, in 2019, 22% of US adults with chronic pain used a prescription opioid over a three month period. Prescriptions included Vicodin, Norco, and other prescription painkillers like Percocet.
The data also indicated prescription opioid use increased with age before declining among adults ages 65 and over. The highest prevalence, roughly 26% among that age group, was among people ages 45 to 64 years old.
About 24% of women with chronic pain needed a prescription for painkillers. Similarly, 28% of chronic pain sufferers who were not employed were on a painkiller prescription. In addition, the findings indicate 27% of adults with chronic pain with a family income below 100% of federal poverty level had a prescription for narcotic painkillers,19% of men and 15% of employed adults dealing with pain problems also used painkillers.
Roughly 19% of adult chronic pain sufferers with a family income of 200% or more of the federal poverty level had prescriptions for opioid painkillers. However, researchers noted prescription opioid use declined as adults were able to obtain further education.
The researchers found 26% of adult pain patients with less than a high school diploma or GED had the highest prevalence of prescription opioid use for chronic pain. Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher had the lowest prevalence of prescription opioid use; 18% among those with chronic pain. Adults with more educational background had a lower risk of using opioids.
More adults with private coverage insurance had an increased risk of using opioids compared to adults who did not have private Medicare or Medicaid coverage. Roughly 28% of chronic pain patients who used Medicare had a risk of using prescription opioid painkillers.
“Prevalence estimates are presented overall and by selected sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics,” the CDC researchers concluded. “The estimates provide a baseline for continued surveillance of prescription opioid use among adults with chronic pain and may illuminate subgroups potentially at higher risk of negative outcomes associated with opioid use.”
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