Abuse potential of various opioid medications


The abuse potentials of various narcotic medications were assessed by surveying 130 hospital patients who admitted to having abused prescription narcotics within the preceding six months. 85% of the subjects surveyed reported having tried controlled-release narcotic preparations for abuse purposes and 60% reported that they were of little or no use. To obtain another index of abuse potential, the author asked the subjects to estimate the street prices of various medications. The street prices of controlled-release formulations were lower than those of other narcotic medications and those of some uncontrolled nonnarcotic medications. These results suggest that controlled-release narcotic formulations may have a lower potential for abuse than do other narcotic medications. In situations where there is concern about potential abuse or diversion of prescribed narcotics, controlled-release preparations may be an appropriate alternative to high-peaking, rapid-onset opioid formulations.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr. Daniel Brookoff MD, PhD.

Additional information

Received from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee.

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Brookoff, D. Abuse potential of various opioid medications. J Gen Intern Med 8, 688–690 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02598290

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Key words

  • narcotics
  • opioids
  • drug abuse
  • prescribing
  • controlled-release medications