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Friday, January 16, 2015

Prescription Drug Use Declining

Those in the field of addiction have seen an upsurge in heroin abuse due to the fight against prescription opioids in America. After years of poor medical practices and lack of oversight regarding doctor shopping and “pill mills,” a new study has found that federal and local governments have managed to decrease the abuse rates of prescription drugs, HealthDay reports.

Between 2002 and 2010, the prescription drug abuse in the United States increased exponentially, a problem of epidemic proportions. However, the data from a combination of five drug monitoring programs shows that between 2011 and 2013 prescription drug abuse rate decreased slightly, but heroin abuse and overdoses are increasing, according to the study.

The drug-monitoring programs gathered data from drug-diversion investigators, poison centers, substance-abuse treatment centers, and college students. They tracked the diversion and abuse of six prescription opioid analgesics:
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol
“The big ‘but’ is heroin abuse and overdose, which is increasing,” said lead author Richard Dart, Director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. “It’s a good news/bad news story,” he said.

Dart said that decline in prescription opioids use is due to new legislation which states have adopted, implementing prescription drug monitoring programs to detect “doctor shoppers.” Making it harder for people to obtain drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone has led some users to switch over to heroin, which in many cases is stronger and less expensive.

The researchers found that the rate of heroin-related deaths increased from 0.014 per 100,000 in 2010 to more than 0.03 per 100,000 in 2013, according to the article.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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