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Narcotic Pain Meds Become Drug of Choice

JoinTogether.com June 22, 2006

Research Summary

More Americans began using narcotic pain medications for recreational use last year than any other drug besides alcohol, including marijuana and cocaine, federal researchers say.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a new analysis of the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showing that 2.4 million Americans ages 12 and older began nonmedical use of narcotic pain drugs in the year prior to the survey. That compares to 2.1 new users of marijuana and 1 million new cocaine users.

Researchers found that of the new users of narcotic pain medications, 48 percent used Vicodin, Lortab or Lorcet, 34.4 percent used Darvocet, Darvon, or Tylenol with codeine, 20 percent used Percocet, Percodan, or Tylox, 18.4 percent used generic hydrocodone, 8.4 percent used Oxycontin, and 4.3 percent used morphine.

Most new recreational users of narcotic pain medications had previously used other illicit drugs; more than half of new nonmedical users were women.

The report is titled "Nonmedical Users of Pain Relievers: Characteristics of Recent Initiates."