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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Jan 1;134:396-400. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.10.005. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Discrepancies in prevalence estimates in two national surveys for nonmedical use of a specific opioid product versus any prescription pain reliever.

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Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, United States; Purdue Pharma L.P., 201 Tresser Boulevard Stamford, CT 06901, United States. Electronic address:
Purdue Pharma L.P., 201 Tresser Boulevard Stamford, CT 06901, United States; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States. Electronic address:



There is a growing need to understand trends in nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers as a class, as well as specific opioid products. Surveys such as monitoring the future (MTF) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) are important tools for understanding trends in abuse of prescription and illegal drugs. This report compares discrepancies in prevalence between these surveys for a specific opioid product (oxycodone) relative to other drugs.


Trends in past-year use of marijuana, cocaine, and nonmedical use of oxycodone and any prescription pain reliever were estimated for each survey for a five year period (2005-2010) for adolescents in 12th grade. The proportion of nonmedical pain reliever users who abused oxycodone was estimated for each survey.


Prevalence of past-year oxycodone nonmedical use was steady over time for both surveys, but 2.5-3 times higher in the MTF compared to the NSDUH. Trends in prevalence of marijuana and cocaine use were similar across surveys, although prevalence estimates for each were on average 18% higher in the MTF. In contrast, prevalence estimates for any nonmedical prescription pain reliever use were on average 15% lower in MTF. The proportion of nonmedical prescription pain reliever users who used oxycodone was 42% in the MTF versus 19% in the NSDUH.


The discrepancy between surveys in prevalence estimates for nonmedical use of oxycodone exceed those for other drugs, pointing to the importance of visual aids and items used to measure the nonmedical use of specific products.


Epidemiology; Opioid; OxyContin; Oxycodone; Pain reliever; Prevalence

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