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We looked at the health and lifestyle of people who regularly used prescription opioids. We also wanted to find out if regular opioid use was linked to an increased risk of dying. UK Biobank participants had told us the medicines they were using as well as answering questions about their health and lifestyle. We included the data of the 466,486 UK Biobank participants who did not have a previous history of cancer. Of these people 5.5% were regularly using opioid medications. Use of opioids increased with age, and was more common in women - 6.3% of women used opioids compared to 4.6% of men. Rates of opioid use were also related to socio-economic factors. The highest rates were in people with low income, in those who had left school before the age of 16, and in those who lived in areas of high deprivation. Among people who did not work because of ill-health a third were taking opioids. We also found that people regularly taking opioids were generally in poor health. Most people who used opioids said they had chronic pain (87%) or insomnia (89%). This suggests that opioids might not be working for the condition (i.e. chronic pain) they are being used for. Finally we found that regular opioid use was associated with premature death. Those taking strong opioids (9.1%) or weak opioids (6.9%) were more likely to die during the follow-up period than non-users (3.3%). This was true even after taking into account differences in health, socio-economic and lifestyle factors between those taking opioids and those not. This increase in deaths was due to disease rather than to accidents or other outside causes. We concluded that regular use of opioids is common in Great Britain, particularly in groups of low socio-economic status. Most opioid users still report chronic pain and poor health generally. They are at increased risk of premature death although we did not conclude that opioid use caused those deaths. Opioid use is a major public health issue. There is a need for better ways of helping people who want to stop using them and to offer different methods of managing chronic pain.