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Research Letter
August 16, 2017

Sustained Prescription Opioid Use Among Previously Opioid-Naive Patients Insured Through TRICARE (2006-2014)

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Surgery and Public Health, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Center for Surgery and Public Health, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA Surg. Published online August 16, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.2628

The rising number of patients dependent on prescription opioids and illicit narcotics has gained national attention recently.14 Widely referred to as the “opioid epidemic,” the annual cost of treating prescription opioid use and abuse exceeds $50 billion per year.2 The initial event associated with exposure to prescription opioids has not been widely explored, but is often maintained to stem from an injury or surgical procedure.14 We sought to evaluate the medical diagnoses linked with an opioid prescription that resulted in sustained opioid use in a large cohort of Americans insured through TRICARE. This population may be comparable to the proportion of the general public at greatest risk of sustained opioid use.5

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