Prescription opioid use disorder adults using prescription opioids for non-medical purposes has been on the rise in the past few years, a study has found.
The study investigated trends and increases over the last decade in prescription opioid use for non-medical purposes.
Study participants included adolescents (12 to 17 years), emerging adults (18 to 25 years), and young adults (26 to 34 years) who used prescription opioids for such purposes.
Emerging adults had a 37 per cent increase in the odds of having the disorder and young adults doubled their odds from 11 per cent to 24 per cent.
Among adolescents, the prevalence of prescription opioid use disorder remained relatively stable during the same period.
The researchers also found a four-fold and nine-fold increase over time in the odds of heroin use among emerging adults and young adults who used opioid without a medical prescription, respectively.
The odds of past-year heroin use among emerging adults rose from two per cent to seven per cent, and from two per cent to 12 per cent among young adults. Nearly 80 per cent of 12- to 21-year-olds who reported initiation of heroin use had previously started using prescription opioids between the ages of 13 and 18.
“Given this and the high probability of non-medical use among adolescents and young adults in general, the potential development of prescription opioid use disorder among youth and young adults represents an important and growing public health concern,” said Silvia Martins, Associate Professor at the Columbia University, in the study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
“Our analyses present the evidence to raise awareness and urgency to address these rising and problematic trends among young adults,” Martins added.
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