“Skewed Public Conversation Around Opioids”

Most opioid patients never get addicted and most people who do get addicted didn’t start their opioid addiction with a doctor’s prescription. The result of this skewed public conversation around opioids has been policies focused relentlessly on cutting prescriptions, without regard for providing alternative treatment for either pain or addiction.”

August 2018[1]

Addiction occurs in only a small percentage of persons who are exposed to opioids — even among those with pre-existing vulnerabilities.”

Nora D. Volkow, M.D, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), March 2016[11]

In the treatment of pain, true addiction is uncommon. You should not be reluctant to seek pain relief because of the fear of addiction.”

October 2012[10]

“Most people who take OxyContin and other prescription opioids, as prescribed, do not become addicted.

Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director of HHS-SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, told Congress, February 2002[2]

Studies: Risk of Addiction Rare When Prescription Opioids Used by Patients as Directed

Many studies indicate the risk of iatrogenic addiction (addiction from medical treatment) for prescription opioids is in the range of about 1-5%.

2019 study in Annals of Emergency Medicine found 1% of “opioid-naive” ER patients who were prescribed opioids met the criteria for persistent opioid use within six months.[3]

2018 study by British Journal of Anesthesia estimated 4.7% average risk and 2.3% risk when opioids are prescribed longer than three months.[4]

2016 SAMHSA survey of 87.1 million U.S. adults who used a prescription opioid during the previous year: Approximately 2% developed a “pain reliever use disorder,” which ranges from overuse to addiction.[5]

2007 American Journal of Psychiatry study of 27,816 individuals admitted to rehab centers: 5% reported any prior use of OxyContin. Of those 5%, 78% had never been prescribed OxyContin, meaning just 1% of the total group had been prescribed OxyContin.[6]

2013 and 2014 National Survey on Drug Use & Health: 75% of people who misused prescription opioids started by using medicine not prescribed to them.[7]

The gold standard government data[8] show that opioid use disorder rates have remained steady over the past 18 years. But the prevailing media narrative ignores this reality by falsely concluding that addiction is on the rise — despite government statistics refuting that false assertion. Even more shocking is how news outlets and some government reports[9] offer credence to flawed studies that cannot possibly be accurate based on real-world data.

Number of People with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD): 2003-2019