Opioid Misuse Trends in Treatment Seeking Populations: Revised Prescription Opioid Policy and Temporally Corresponding Changes
Background: Over the last two decades, U.S. rates of prescription opioid (PO) misuse have risen drastically. In response, federal and state governments have begun to implement new PO policies. Recent legislative changes warrant up-to-date assessments of today's misuse rates. Objective: To explore potential changes in opioid misuse trends among substance-using treatment seekers, in temporal relation to legislative response. Methods: Substance-use data were collected from two cross-sectional Florida-based inpatient cohorts during periods preceding (pre-policy; n = 647) and following (post-policy; n = 396) statewide PO policy initiatives. Participants provided information concerning their most frequently used drugs before treatment. PO and illicit opioid (IO) use prevalence, frequency and route of administration were examined for pre-policy vs. post-policy cohort differences. Results: Relative to the pre-policy cohort, a greater percentage of the post-policy cohort reported recent misuse, daily use, and intravenous administration of POs. IO use was also more frequently reported post-policy. Non-opioid drug use prevalence did not significantly differ between cohorts. Among the opioid-using subsample, equivalent percentages of the pre- and post-policy cohorts reported the use of POs without IOs, IOs without POs, and POs/IOs concurrently. Conclusions/Importance: Florida's PO policy amendments were temporally accompanied by a higher prevalence of PO misuse and IO use among treatment-seekers assessed in this study. Whether our data reflect increased awareness of and treatment seeking for opioid use disorders or insufficient efficacy of new policies to reduce opioid misuse remains in question. Regardless, findings suggest the need for enhanced emphasis on mitigating hazardous PO-use behaviors (e.g., IV use).
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