The purposes of this study were to determine the prevalence of prescription opioid misuse in a cohort of discharged emergency department (ED) patients who received prescription opioids and to examine factors predictive of misuse.Methods:
This prospective observational study enrolled a sample of ED patients aged 18 to 55 years who were discharged with a prescription opioid. Participants completed surveys at baseline in the ED, then 3 and 30 days later. Follow-up surveys contained questions about opioid use and misuse, including screening questions from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Patients were categorized as misusers if they (1) self-escalated their dose, (2) obtained additional prescription opioids without a prescription, or (3) used for a reason besides pain.Results:
Of the 85 patients who completed follow-ups, 36 (42%) reported misuse at either 3 or 30 days. There was no difference in demographic variables, pain scores, analgesic treatment, or discharge diagnoses between misusers and nonmisusers. Self-escalation of dose was the most common category of misuse (33/36; 92%). Taking prescription opioids without a doctor's prescription was reported by 39% (14/36), and taking pain medications for a reason other than pain was reported by 36% (13/36). The presence of disability, chronic pain, preexisting prescription opioid use, oxycodone use, and past 12-month risk of substance abuse were associated with misuse.Conclusions:
Prescription opioid misuse was prevalent among this cohort of ED patients. A heterogeneous mixture of behaviors was captured. Future research should focus on the etiologies of misuse with directed screening and interventions to decrease misuse.