Approximately 1.4% (n = 155) of respondents aged 50 or older reported non-prescription use of prescription pain relievers within the past 12 months preceding the interview. In contrast, 12-month prevalence of non-prescription use of prescription sedatives (0.14%), tranquilizers (0.46%), and stimulants (0.16%) in this sample was low. Hence, this report focuses on prescription pain relievers.
We report in the prevalence of non-prescription use by study variables. Non-prescription use was more prevalent in the 50-64 age group (1.9%), males (1.7%), American Indians/Alaska Natives (9.0%), and users of alcohol (1.7%) or marijuana (10.7%) than the older group, females, African Americans, individuals reporting multiple race, and non-users of alcohol or marijuana. None of health-related variables was significantly associated with non-prescription use.
Twelve-month Prevalence of Non-prescription use of Prescription Pain Relievers among Adults Aged 50 or Older in 2005–2006: By Demographic, Substance Use, and Health Variables
We then examined the pattern of non-prescription use among the 155 respondents (1.4% of the sample) who reported past year use of non-prescription pain relievers (). Propoxyphene, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine products were more commonly used than the other categories: “Darvocet®, Darvon®, or Tylenol® with codeine” (ever used by 66% of users), “Vicodin®, Lortab®, Lorcet®, or Lorcet Plus®” (43%), “Percocet®, Percodan®, or Tylox®” (35%), generic hydrocodone (19%), generic codeine (16%), and OxyContin® (8%). Half (51%) of all users had ever used more than one category of pain relievers. The majority (88%) of users reported that their first non-prescription use occurred in adulthood (≥ 18 years), and one-fifth (21%) initiated the use at age 50 or older. Half (50%) of all users reported using the drugs on 12 or more days in the past year (mean = 34.84 days).
Pattern of non-prescription use among past year non-prescription users of pain relievers aged 50 or older in 2005-2006 (N = 155)
In , adjusted odds ratios (AOR) of non-prescription use are presented. Increased odds of non-prescription use were found among respondents aged 50-64 (AOR = 2.39, 95% CI = 1.31-4.36), American Indians/Alaska natives (AOR = 8.78, 95% CI = 2.50-30.85; relative to African Americans), and marijuana users (AOR = 7.07, 95% CI = 3.99-12.53), and these findings were independent of the influences of respondents’ sex, alcohol use, and past year status of major depressive episodes. We explored whether age group might be an effect modifier in associations of sex, alcohol use, marijuana use, and major depressive episode with non-prescription use. None of these interactions was significant.
Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) of Past Year Non-prescription use of Prescription Pain Relievers Among Adults Aged 50 or Older in 2005–2006 (N = 10,953)
The overall 12-month prevalence of abuse of or dependence on prescription pain relievers among all respondents was low (0.13%). In the subsample of non-prescription users (n = 155), 1.7% met criteria for abuse and an additional 7.6% met criteria for dependence within the past 12 months. Therefore, the risk of prescription pain reliever dependence was comparatively high (one in 13 users) compared with the risk for abuse among users. The combined prevalence of abuse and dependence among users was 9.4%.