Nonmedical use of tapentadol immediate release by college students

Clin J Pain. 2014 Aug;30(8):685-92. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000001.


Objectives: Prescription opioid analgesics play an important role in managing moderate to severe pain. An unintended consequence of the availability of these drugs is nonmedical use. We report rates and methods of nonmedical use of the analgesic tapentadol immediate release (IR) and other commonly prescribed opioid analgesics among US college students following the launch of tapentadol IR in June 2009.

Materials and methods: The Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance System College Survey Program collects data from approximately 2000 self-identified college students throughout the United States during fall, spring, and summer terms using a web-based questionnaire. Responses from July 2009 through September 2011 were analyzed for the rate of nonmedical use of tapentadol IR.

Results: Nonmedical use of prescription opioids was reported by 1626 of 13,514 respondents (12.0%); tapentadol IR use was reported by 101 respondents (0.7%). The rate of nonmedical tapentadol IR use per 100,000 population was highest in 4Q2009 (0.013 per 100,000 population) and decreased over the subsequent 2 years to 0.004 per 100,000 population. Similarly, the rate per 1000 unique recipients of dispensed drug (URDD) was highest in 4Q2009 (0.66 per 1000 URDD) and decreased to 0.06 per 1000 URDD. The primary route of administration endorsed for nonmedical tapentadol IR use was intact swallow (49.5%), chewed and swallowed (41.6%), followed by inhalation (20.8).

Discussion: Since its launch, rates of nonmedical tapentadol IR use by college students have been low and have decreased over time. The initial levels of reported nonmedical use may represent a brief period of experimentation after introduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Phenols / administration & dosage*
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tapentadol
  • United States
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Phenols
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Tapentadol