Proportion of the disabled Medicare beneficiaries under the age of 65 filling 6 or more opioid prescriptions by Hospital Referral Region. There are large regional variations.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
A recent study finds that 43.7% of disability recipients are taking prescription opioids. Many are on very high doses.
The researchers analyzed trends in use of prescription opioids (morphine-related drugs) among disabled Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 between 2007 and 2011. Nearly all under-65 Medicare beneficiaries are SSDI recipients; patients who go on SSDI are eligible for Medicare after two years.
Consistent with reports of an “opioid epidemic” in the United States, the results showed high and rising prevalence of opioid use by SSDI recipients. The percentage of beneficiaries taking opioids increased from 2007 through 2010. In 2011, the most recent year with available data, prevalence dipped slightly to 43.7 percent.
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