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Binge Drinking and Prescription Opioid Misuse in the U.S., 2012–2014

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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
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    Introduction: Prescription opioids were responsible for approximately 17,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016. One in five prescription opioid deaths also involve alcohol. Drinkers who misuse prescription opioids (i.e., use without a prescription or use only for the experience or feeling it caused) are at heightened risk of overdose. However, little is known about the relationship between drinking patterns and prescription opioid misuse. Methods: Data were analyzed from the 160,812 individuals (aged ≥12 years) who responded to questions about prescription opioid misuse and alcohol consumption in the 2012, 2013, or 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (analyzed in 2017–2018). The prevalence of self-reported past 30-day prescription opioid misuse was assessed by sociodemographic characteristics, other substance use (i.e., cigarettes, marijuana), and drinking patterns. Multiple logistic regression was used to calculate AORs. Results: From 2012 to 2014, 1.6% (95% CI=1.5, 1.7) of all individuals aged ≥12 years (estimated 4.2 million) and 3.5% (95% CI=3.3, 3.8) of binge drinkers (estimated 2.2 million) reported prescription opioid misuse. Prescription opioid misuse was more common among binge drinkers than non-drinkers (AOR=1.7, 95% CI=1.5, 1.9). Overall, the prevalence of prescription opioid misuse increased significantly with binge drinking frequency (p-value <0.001). Conclusions: More than half of the 4.2 million people who misused prescription opioids during 2012–2014 were binge drinkers, and binge drinkers had nearly twice the odds of misusing prescription opioids compared with non-drinkers. Widespread use of evidence-based strategies for preventing binge drinking might reduce opioid misuse and overdoses involving alcohol.
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