Pain Reliever Abuse

Recently, some new information was released regarding non-medical use of pain killers for young adults, aged 18 to 25. The SAMHSA study was over a three year period. It showed that painkiller abuse is slowly rising, from 22 to 24 percent over the past three years. Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet are some of the most commonly abused narcotics. Last year an estimated 16.5% of young adults admitted to having used Vicodin, Lortab or Lorcet non-medically. Hydrocodone abuse is also on the rise, with 17.4% of the group admitting abuse. Other abused opiate based drugs included Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, OxyContin and Oxycodone products. The overall rate for illicit drug use was highest among individuals reporting more than one race, Native Americans and Alaska Natives around 12.5%. After that rates are highest in whites, then Latinos, then blacks. Asians have the lowest rate at 3.1%. As painkiller abuse increases among young adults, what actions are being taken to combat and or prevent this problem? The study did not describe these efforts. It simply gave strong evidence that the span of this problem is growing. Because every individual who abuses painkillers is likely to become dependent, unlike most other drugs, this problem is of a lethal nature. The risk of overdose after a period of abstinence is also very high, creating greater cause for alarm. SOURCE: Department of Health and Human Services (September, 2005), "Overview of Findings from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health" (13).