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Editorial |

Advances in the Treatment of Opioid Dependence:  Continued Progress and Ongoing Challenges

Patrick G. O’Connor, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2010;304(14):1612-1614. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1496.
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Illicit drug use is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In the United States, the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health documented that 8.7% of individuals older than 12 years reported past month illicit drug use.1 Illicit opioid use is an important contributor to health problems, including human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C infection and overdose-related deaths. While historically heroin has been most commonly abused, nonmedical use of prescription opioid pain relievers is now the dominant form of opioid abuse in the United States. In 2009, more than 5.3 million Americans reported past month prescription opioid abuse1 and the 2009 Monitoring the Future Study demonstrated that among 12th-graders, 9.7% reported abuse of hydrocodone and 4.9% reported abuse of oxycodone in the past year.2 Thus, illicit opioid use is a critical national health issue that requires creative approaches to prevention and treatment.

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