More than 12 million people reported using prescription pain medications nonmedically in 2010.That number encompasses both abuse and misuse. The abuse and misuse of prescription pain medications were responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that nearly doubled in just five years. Further, opioid overdoses in particular are increasingly due to the abuse of prescription painkillers.
Abuse is a nonmedical use of a drug, repeatedly, or even sporadically, for the positive psychoactive effects it produces. The most common form of opioid abuse is swallowing a number of intact pills or tablets to achieve a feeling of euphoria. While this is the most widespread form of abuse, opioid analgesics can be abused in a number of ways:
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