Introduction: Since the 1990s prescriptions for and the non-medical use of opioids have increased. This study examines associations between opioid prescribing, non-medical use, and emergency department (ED) visits.
Methods: Data were abstracted from four federally sponsored, nationally representative, annual surveys (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and Drug Abuse Warning Network).
Results: For hydrocodone and oxycodone, associations between prescribing and non-medical use, and prescribing and ED visits were statistically significant (p-values < 0.04) and strongly associated (correlation coefficient range 0.73 to 0.87). Male gender, White race, and age > or = 35 were all statistically significant (p-values < 0.0001) predictors of receiving a hydrocodone or oxycodone-containing prescription.
Conclusion: The increased number of prescriptions written for hydrocodone and oxycodone between 1995 and 2004 was associated with similar increases in non-medical use and the number of ED visits during this time period.