Trends in Medical and Non-medical Use of Opioids among U.S. Adolescents

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and posted on their web site highlighted the fact that most U.S. studies of national trends in medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids have focused on adults. Given the limited understanding in these trends among adolescents, the AAP examined national trends in the medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids among high school seniors between 1976 and 2015.

The data used for the study came from the Monitoring the Future study of adolescents. Forty cohorts of nationally representative samples of high school seniors (modal age 18) were used to examine self-reported medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids.

The study results revealed that lifetime prevalence of medical use of prescription opioids peaked in both 1989 and 2002 and remained stable until a recent decline from 2013 through 2015. Lifetime nonmedical use of prescription opioids was less prevalent and highly correlated with medical use of prescription opioids over this 40-year period. Adolescents who reported both medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids were more likely to indicate medical use of prescription opioids before initiating nonmedical use.

The extensive study concluded that prescription opioid exposure is common among US adolescents. Long-term trends indicate that one-fourth of high school seniors self-reported medical or nonmedical use of prescription opioids. Medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids has declined recently and remained highly correlated over the past four decades.

The study further concluded that sociodemographic differences and risky patterns involving medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids should be taken into consideration in clinical practice to improve opioid analgesic prescribing and reduce adverse consequences associated with prescription opioid use among adolescents.

EazyScripts is doing its part in combating this problem. Our electronic prescribing software for controlled substances is Surescripts-certified and requires complete ID proofing, two way authentication and provides an audit trail archive. Our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) provides physicians with access to information that allows collaboration between medical professionals and fosters the legitimate medical use of controlled substances, while limiting the abuse and diversion of these agents.

Research has shown that U.S. states that have more robust prescription drug monitoring programs have fewer prescription opioid overdose deaths than states with weaker PMPs.

EazyScripts takes its role in combating opioid abuse very seriously.