Opioids prescribed for one out of three adults in U.S.

According to results of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2015 a staggering 38% of the American population took an opioid (narcotic) for pain. Since 1999, the number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled, while the incidence of pain has remained stable indicating that they are being prescribed when not needed.  Further, almost 60% of people who took these drugs misused them, that is - took them without a prescription, took larger doses than prescribed, or used the drugs to get high, with 40 % of those getting them as “hand-me-downs” from family or friends who got the drugs from their doctors but had some left over.

Journal article abstract at:  http://annals.org/aim/article/2646632/prescription-opioid-use-misuse-use-disorders-u-s-adults-2015

Summary of article at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167496.html

Sign Up for E-News

Use this news

Opioids (i.e. .narcotics) are a class of drugs chemically similar to a substance in the sap of the opium poppy seed pod that has been used for pain relief for centuries. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids work by attaching to special areas on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and other organs, and in turn, block the transmission of pain signals. In addition to their pain relief properties, opioids activate reward regions in the brain that result in euphoria or a high which is what leads to misuse and addiction. Oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine and morphine are commonly prescribed narcotics that are chemically similar to the illegal opioids - heroin and fentanyl. Legal opioids are generally safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor for as limited a period of time as possible to treat acute/short term severe pain. How effective they are in treating long term, chronic pain (pain that lasts more than three months) is unknown.  

According to a 2016 report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) an estimated 20% of patients at physician offices with acute and chronic pain from health issues other than cancer, receive a prescription for an opioid. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for narcotic pain medication, which is enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills. While prescriptions for these drugs have increased overall, the greatest increase has been in prescriptions from family practice, general practice, and internal medicine physicians when compared with other specialties.

So what can we do about this situation? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed guidelines to improve the way opioids are prescribed, ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe, effective pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these drugs. The guidelines are not intended for people in active treatment for cancer, in palliative or end-of-life care.

If you have chronic, long term pain:

  1. Talk with your health care provider about non-opioid pain management first such as:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®)

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Physical therapy and exercise

Medications for depression or for seizures

Interventional therapies (injections around the painful area)

(Other possible alternative treatments maybe yoga, acupuncture, TENS unit)

  1. If none of the non-narcotic treatments work and you are prescribed an opioid medication: 

Use it exactly as directed by your health care provider.

Never take more than the amount prescribed, or more often than prescribed.

Avoid taking these other drugs while taking a narcotic pain medication unless specifically advised by your physician:


Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Valium)

Muscle relaxants (such as Soma or Flexeril

Hypnotics (such as Ambien or Lunesta)

Any other prescription opioid pain relievers

  1. Work with your doctor to create a pain management plan.
  2. Follow up regularly with your doctor about any and all side effects and concerns.
  3. Store opioid pain relievers in a safe place and out of reach of others.

Help prevent misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing prescription opioid pain relievers.

Never use another person's prescription opioids.

If you have unused medication, check Dispose My Meds (http://disposemymeds.org/)

to find a pharmacy in your community with a medication disposal program.


 For more information:

Which class of prescription drugs are most commonly misused?


Opium and heroin

Opioid overdose prescribing data


Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES is the principal of Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC, in Sparta, a practice focused on improving health through education. Her office offers individual and group health education, and individual health behavior change guidance.  For more information please see www.associatesforhealth.com  To contact Dr. Hayden, email her atjoanna@associatesforhealth.com

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Video: Scoutmaster Ken Fineran Street Dedication Ceremony

May 21, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn Township and Boy Scout Troop 17 of St. Rose of Lima honored the life and accomplishments of late Scoutmaster Kenneth W. Fineran on Sunday, May 20. Troop 17 Scouts, in conjunction with Millburn Township and St. Rose of Lima Church.

Millburn Student's Bike Stolen, Millburn Police Investigating

June 12, 2018

On June 5, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Tavares responded to the Louis Vuitton store at The Mall at Short Hills on a theft report. Louis Vuitton personnel report a black male with dread locks wearing a black t-shirt, red shorts, black leggings, and white/red sneakers took two pairs of sunglasses valued at $870.00 and left the store without making payment. The incident is under investigation by ...


AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 12, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 22, 8:00 PM

Education Center, West Orange

Night Moves: Evening Guided Zoo Tours

Education Other


Sun, June 24, 11:00 AM


MakerFest 2018

Wed, June 27, 6:00 PM

Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit


Arts & Entertainment Home & Garden

Meet Your Local Prosthodontist

June 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Dr. Efterpi (Effie) Zantopoulos Deegan of Deegan Dental received her Certificate of Prosthodontics from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), after attending dental school there as well.  She is an alumnus of Rutgers- Newark College of Arts and Sciences and West Orange High School. Dr. Deegan is half-time faculty at Rutgers School ...

NCJW/Essex Hosts The Five Stages of Career Transition with Motivational Speaker Frederica Peterson

LIVINGSTON, NJ -- On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Frederica Peterson, Motivational Speaker and Career Coach, MA, CPC, ELI-MP, engaged nearly 50 women at the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women about moving forward in one’s career and in life. Peterson examined how many women feel stuck and trapped in negative thoughts, but how with the right mindset it’s possible to ...

Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee Looking to Fill District Leader Spots

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee is stronger than ever and proudly represents itself along with Essex County Executive Joseph Di Vincenzo and newly re-elected Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones at the Essex County Democratic Reorganization meeting.

The local committee currently has a record 29 of 32 District Leader spots filled. We have a female ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...