(Feb. 22, 2019) -- On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and almost 218,000 Americans died from overdoses related to prescription opioids from 1999 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers at UTSA have studied the opioid epidemic in a representative sample from the United States and found that the majority of people misusing prescription opioids are also using other licit and illicit substances.
Timothy Grigsby and Jeffrey T. Howard, who are both assistant professors in the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), recently published their findings in The American Journal on Addictions.
According to their study, males and younger respondents (adolescents aged 12-17 and young adults aged 18-25) were more likely to report past 30 day prescription opioid and illicit or polydrug use (using more than one other drug in the past month).
Grigsby, the lead author on the study, said most individuals who reported prescription opioid misuse in the survey also reported the use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or hard drugs.
In addition, the researchers discovered that prescription opioid misusers who used more than one other drug in the past month had the greatest odds of reporting behavioral problems (stealing property worth $50 or more, selling illegal drugs, contracting an STD), mental health problems (suicidal ideation and major depressive episode) and the need for substance use treatment.
“If we want to end the opioid epidemic, and stop another similar one from taking its place, then we need to consider the entire clinical picture of the patient including their use of other substances,” said Grigsby.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data indicates that the primary reason for misuse of prescription pain killers is pain (62.6 percent). Individuals with existing physical, behavioral and mental health problems may be at a higher risk of prescription opioid misuse due to associated pain related symptoms or as a coping mechanism for psychological and behavioral problems.
“So much of the public discussion focuses on the opioid epidemic as though it is happening in a vacuum when, in fact, so many people misusing prescription opioids are also engaging in other substance use,” explained Grigsby. “I wanted to get a better sense of what patterns of prescription opioid misuse and co-morbid substance use existed and how these patterns were associated with different health outcomes.”
The assistant professor’s primary research interest is on the study of substance misuse and developing screening and intervention methods to stop the escalation of substance use and the pattern of associated negative consequences (blacking out, missing school or work, stealing to buy more drugs).
Previously, Grigsby analyzed the relationship of recreational drug use patterns with negative drug use consequences, but this is the first time he has incorporated prescription opioids and other indicators of behavioral and mental health using nationally representative data.
“The results were consistent with previous research, but also show that there is a larger set of problems facing people who misuse prescription opioids,” explained Grigsby.
Read the study.
Learn more about the College of Education and Human Development.
Learn more about Timothy Grigsby.
Learn more about Jeffrey Howard.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
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