One-Quarter of Narcotic Painkillers Misused; 10 percent of patients become addicted

Almost a quarter of powerful narcotic painkillers that are prescribed for chronic pain are misused, and the rate of addiction among patients hovers near 10 percent, a new review shows. The findings raise questions about the benefits of widespread use of these painkillers to treat chronic pain, the researchers said. “On average, misuse was documented in approximately one out of four or five patients, and addiction [was found] in approximately one out of 10 or 11 patients” prescribed the drugs as part of their treatment for chronic pain, wrote Kevin Vowles, from the University of New Mexico, and colleagues. In the review, researchers analyzed 38 published studies, 35 of which were conducted in the United States. The average rates of misuse were 21 percent to 29 percent, while the average rates of addiction were 8 percent to 12 percent, according to the review in the April issue of the journal Pain.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_151794.html