Non-Medical Rx Painkiller Use Highest in Oklahoma: SAMHSA

States with the lowest rates included Massachusetts (3.49 percent), Vermont (3.49 percent), Florida (3.47 percent), Montana (3.46 percent), and Minnesota (3.41 percent).

A new report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates 4.31 percent of Americans age 12 or older used prescription pain relievers non-medically during the past year. There are variations in use by state, with rates of past year non-medical use of prescription pain relievers ranging from 3.41 percent in Minnesota to 5.31 percent in Oklahoma.

SAMHSA's research has found that the vast majority of people who take prescription pain relievers do not misuse them, but non-medical misuse of these medications is second only to marijuana use as the nation's most prevalent illegal drug problem. "Prescription pain relievers when used properly for their intended purpose can be of enormous benefit to patients, but their non-medical use can lead to addiction, serious physical harm, and even death," said Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Kana Enomoto. "We must educate the public on the serious health risks involved, train prescribers to recognize signs of misuse, and provide evidence-based treatment to those who need it."

The report shows that the states highest for past year non-medical use of prescription pain relievers were Oklahoma, Alabama (5.24 percent), Arkansas (5.21 percent), and Nevada (5.20 percent). States with the lowest rates included Massachusetts (3.49 percent), Vermont (3.49 percent), Florida (3.47 percent), Montana (3.46 percent), and Minnesota (3.41 percent).

The "NSDUH Report: State and Substate Estimates of Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers" was based on combined 2012-2014 data from the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. The full report is available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_3187/ShortReport-3187.html.

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