In February of this year, I co-authored a paper in the Journal of Pain Research explaining why there is no correlation between the amount of opioids prescribed and the incidence of non-medical use or prescription pain-reliever use disorder.
See my post on this paper: Non-medical opioid users were not pain patients
Now researchers in Germany have provided more evidence to pour cold water on the idea of any relationship between the volume of opioid prescribing and the incidence of opioid use disorder.
Publishing in the German Medical Association’s international science journal, they found that “the number of persons addicted to opioids in Germany has hardly changed over the past 20 years,” with an average of 3.1 persons per 1000 inhabitants across Germany.
This compares to data from the US National Survey on Drug Use And Health showing no significant change in “pain reliever use disorder” in adults age 12 and above from 2002-2014.
But another point of comparison must not go unnoticed:
- the US leads the developed world in per capita opioid-related overdose deaths, while
- Germany’s overdose rate is among the lowest in the developed world.
Germany’s overdose rate has been essentially unchanged for most of this century.
Below is the study referred to above:
Estimation of the Number of People With Opioid Addiction in Germany – free full-text /PMC6460011/ – Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2019 Mar
Comparisons with earlier estimates suggest that the number of persons addicted to opioids in Germany has hardly changed over the past 20 years.
Despite methodological limitations, this estimate can be considered highly valid. Nearly all persons who are addicted to opioids are in contact with the addiction care system.