opioid-narcoticsWhile the most commonly prescribed opioid drugs are codeine and hydrocodone, it turns out that the use of opioids stronger than morphine is on the rise. A new report has found that there has been an increase of Americans taking drugs, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and methadone, USA Today reports. These drugs are great at dulling the pain, but carry with them a high potential for abuse, and if used improperly can be fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 37 percent of people who used a prescription opioid in 2011-2012, took a drug stronger than morphine, compared with 17 percent in 1999. The report showed that during that time period an estimated seven percent of adults used a prescription opioid.

The study showed that between 1999 and 2010, opioid painkiller sales quadrupled, according to the article. Powerful opioids have the propensity to be overused, leading to overdose and even death, from 1999 to 2012 opioid-related deaths more than tripled. In 2012, opioid overdoses were responsible for the deaths of 16,007 people.

The CDC report found that the use of opioid narcotic drugs among U.S. adults has more than doubled since 1988–1994, when 3.4 percent used opioid painkillers. Demographically, non-Hispanic whites were more likely than Hispanic adults to use the drugs, but there was no significant difference in use between non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks.

Men aged 20–39 did not use opioid analgesics (4.2%) as much as men aged 40–59 (8.1%) or 60 and over (6.9%), according to the report. Women aged 20–39 (5.2%) were found to use opioids less than those aged 40–59 (8.0%) or 60 and over (8.6%). When comparing men to women aged 60 and over, women (8.6%) were more likely to use opioids than men (6.9%). However, among other age groups, no significant differences were found between men and women.

Opioid dependence and opioid-related deaths are a growing public concern, the report noted.
The report, “Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use Among Adults: United States, 1999–2012″, can be viewed in full here.