In the United States both prescribed and non-prescribed use of prescription pain relievers, as well as rates of opioid-related mortality and admissions to emergency departments have increased in the last few years. The rate of drug-overdose deaths associated with prescription opioid misuse has also increased and, in 2002, was greater than the rate associated with heroin or cocaine use. In 2005, an estimated 2.2 million Americans used pain relievers non-medically for the first time within the preceding year and more than a third of these first-time or new users were adolescents aged 12-17. A study of 18,678 adolescents in the U.S. found that approximately one in ten of them (9.3% of boys and 10.3% of girls) had abused prescription painkillers. The mean age of first non-prescribed use was 13.3, similar to the mean starting age for alcohol and marijuana but higher than that for solvent abuse. Approximately a quarter of painkiller abusers had never used another illicit substance. Male painkiller abusers were more likely than other children to have been cautioned or arrested by the police while female painkiller abusers were more likely than other girls to suffer from anxiety or depression.
Wu, Li-Tzy, Pilowsky, Daniel J. and Patkar, Ashwin A. - Non-prescribed use of pain relievers among adolescents in the United States Drug and Alchohol Dependence, 2008, 94(1-11)