Association of Overall Opioid Prescriptions on Adolescent Opioid Abuse

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21 Scopus citations


Background Opioid abuse is a public health epidemic in the United States. Much literature has focused on the prescribing practices of physicians and opioid misuse by adults. However, there are limited data on the effect of opioid prescriptions on adolescent recreational ingestion of these medications. Objectives The objective of this study was to assess for a relationship between opioid prescribing practices across the United States and adolescent opioid ingestion calls to poison centers. Methods This was an observational study using the National Poison Data System. The study population consisted of poison center calls regarding adolescents between 2005 and 2010 in the database with a coding of “intentional abuse” and an opioid ingestion. National opioid prescription estimates were generated using nationally representative outpatient and inpatient databases. Results There were 4186 adolescent opioid ingestion calls during the study period. There was a general increase between 2005 and 2010 in both teen opioid abuse calls (617 in 2005 to 782 in 2010) and national opioid prescriptions (approximately 78 million in 2005 to 108 million in 2010). For each opioid prescription increase per 100 persons per year, the annual teen opioid abuse calls increased by 1.8% (95% confidence interval 0.9–2.8%), equivalent to an absolute increase of about 0.04 to 0.05 calls per 100,000 teens annually. Conclusions There appears to be an association between opioid prescriptions nationally and poison center calls for adolescent opioid ingestions. This is particularly important in this patient population because of impulsivity and early exposure to substance abuse. Providers should be aware of the nonmedical use of opioids by adolescents and educate patients accordingly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-490
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • adolescent
  • child
  • ingestion
  • medicine
  • opioid pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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