Many Adults in Utah Report Using Opioids Incorrectly

Nearly 2 percent say they have used prescription opioids not prescribed to them
By Andrea Mongler
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- In 2008, one-fifth of adults in Utah had been prescribed an opioid pain medication in the past year, with some respondents reporting use of these medications despite no prescription for them, according to an article in the Feb. 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Christy Porucznik, Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues reported that, in 2008, the Utah Department of Public Health added 12 questions to the state's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey to better understand how residents obtain and use prescription pain medications. A total of 5,330 respondents were interviewed.

Findings indicated that 20.8 percent of Utah residents aged 18 years and older had been prescribed an opioid pain medication in the previous 12 months. Of those, 3.2 percent reported using their medication more often or in higher doses than their doctor had directed. In addition, 72 percent reported having leftover medication, and 71 percent of those with leftover medication reported that they kept it. Nearly 2 percent of respondents reported using prescription opioids that had not been prescribed to them.

"During 1999 to 2007, deaths in Utah attributed to poisoning by prescription pain medications increased nearly 600 percent, from 39 in 1999 to 261 in 2007. Although the extent to which leftover medications contribute to overdose deaths is unknown, the 1.8 percent of respondents who reported using prescription opioids that had not been prescribed to them extrapolates to approximately 35,000 adults in Utah engaged in illegal and risky behavior," the authors conclude.

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