The most commonly misused type of prescription pain relievers consisted of hydrocodone products like Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Zohydro® ER, and generic hydrocodone. An estimated 6.9 million people misused these drugs in the past year, representing 2.6 percent of the population.
An estimated 3.9 million people misused oxycodone products in the past year; this number represents 1.4 percent of people. Oxycodone products include OxyContin®, Percocet®, Percodan®, Roxicodone®, and generic oxycodone.
An estimated 0.3 percent of people aged 12 or older misused buprenorphine products in the past year, and 0.1 percent misused methadone.
Among people aged 12 or older in 2016 who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, the most commonly reported reason for their last misuse of a pain reliever was to relieve physical pain (62.3 percent), which is the reason pain relievers are prescribed. Even if the reason for misuse was to relieve physical pain, use without a prescription of one’s own or use at a higher dosage or more often than prescribed still constituted misuse.
Other commonly reported reasons for the last misuse among people who misused pain relievers in the past year were:
- to feel good or get high
- to relax or relieve tension
- to help with feelings or emotions
- to help with sleep
- to experiment or see what the drug was like
- because they were “hooked” or needed to have the drug
- to increase or decrease the effects of other drugs
More than half of people who misused pain relievers in the past year reported that they obtained the pain relievers the last time from a friend or relative. Specifically, 40.4 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained pain relievers the last time by getting them from a friend or relative for free, 8.9 percent bought their last pain reliever from a friend or relative, and 3.7 percent took their last pain reliever from a friend or relative without asking.
About one-third of people who misused pain relievers in the past year said that they obtained pain relievers the last time through prescription(s) or stole from a health care provider, typically getting the pain relievers through a prescription from one doctor. About 1 in 16 people who misused pain relievers in the past year reported that they bought the last pain reliever they misused from a drug dealer or stranger.
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We would like to thank SAMHSA for their very helpful studies.