Illicit drug abuse down but prescription abuse up, say researchers

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According to Asokumar Buvanendran, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and colleagues, rates of prescription painkiller abuse are on the rise but rates of illicit drug abuse are on the decline.

The researchers' findings were reported in an abstract presented at the recent American Society of Anesthesiologists meeting.

Abuse of the likes of oxycodone (OxyContin) has gone up approximately 1 percentage point per year between 2007 and 2009. Meanwhile, use of drugs like heroin, marijuana, and cocaine have dropped by 4 percentage points in the same time frame.

The silver lining

Researchers note that the silver lining here is that as illicit drug use declines, the presumption is that so too should the kinds of infectious diseases that accompany their abuse decline, such as hepatitis C and HIV.

Their data and conclusions were culled from data obtained from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which uses emergency department visits pertaining to specific drugs and substance abuse as data points.

Screening and monitoring programs may stem the rise

To help stem the rise in prescription drug abuse, researchers recommended that clinicians begin random urine screenings, if they believe they are necessary, and take advantage of prescription drug monitoring programs.

Source: Med Page Today

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