It’s no secret that the abuse of prescription opioid painkillers, like OxyContin and Percocet, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. But a recently published study highlights a strange trend: Non-medical use of opiates has decreased, while prescription opioid use disorders, frequency of use and related deaths has actually increased.


Between 2003 and 2013, the proportion of people illicitly using opiate painkillers The rate of non-medical use of opioids, which means using a prescription not as directed or using someone else’s prescription, actually fell according to a study in the October 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“The results underscore the importance of addressing the prescription opioid crisis,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Beth Han of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Rockville, Maryland. She said there was a rise in high-intensity opioid use during the 2000s when more doctors began prescribing these drugs.

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