How does changing opioid Rx rates affect opioid and heroin consumption?

American Journal of Psychiatry | June 22, 2022


At least 39 states have enacted laws restricting length and/or dose of opioid treatment for non-cancer pain. This study showed that curtailing opioid prescriptions had a corresponding effect on opioid misuse.

County-wide opioid prescription data were compiled from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the CDC and Prevention retail opioid prescription database, the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System, and the US Census to determine the effect on opioid and heroin misuse.

Based on data involving 748,800 individuals > 12 years of age between 2006 and 2016, the probability of opioid prescription misuse, increased frequency of misuse, and dependence were 7.2%, 3.5%, and 10.4% higher based on the standard deviation increase in dispensing opioids per 100 persons. No such association was demonstrated with respect to heroin misuse.