CDC finds patients using more potent opioids

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest prescription opioid check-in indicates that the number of adults using prescription opiates has more than doubled since the 1988 – 1994 survey in which 3.4% of adults said they were using these drugs.

The new percentage of prescription opiate users is 6.9% of adults, according to the 2011 – 2012 assessment.

The survey also showed that US adults are seeking out more potent painkillers. The latest numbers show that 37% of prescription opioid users are using painkillers that were stronger than morphine, whereas this figure was 17% between 1999 and 2002.


Stronger-than-morphine drugs include fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone and oxymorphone. Purdue Pharma's Oxycontin was approved in 1996, marking a turning point for the category.

The poll did not indicate whether the people taking the prescription painkillers were the people for whom they were prescribed.

The painkiller category has drawn the ire of lawmakers and addiction advocates over the drugs' advertising and the category's high abuse rates.

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