Immigrants who had been in the U.S. between five and 15 years were more than three times as likely to use opioids than new immigrants, while those living in the U.S. longer than 15 years were four times likelier, researchers found. The team also discovered that, while 8% of immigrants use prescription opioids, 16% of U.S.-born adults use them.
The study was conducted by Matthew Davis, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and Medical School in Ann Arbor, and Brian Sites, MD, an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Their cross-sectional study used 2014 and 2016 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative health survey of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The survey collects data on healthcare expenditures and health service use, including prescription medications. The researchers used a sample of approximately 13,600 adult immigrants.
"Our results indicate that American culture has a potent influence on opioid prescribing, as evidenced by the dramatic time effect that is associated with a massive increase in prescription opioid use among immigrants to the United States," Dr. Davis said in a statement released by the University of Michigan.
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