Drug of Choice Becoming Pills

Prescription drug abuse has increased slowly as street drug abuse slightly drops

(RxWiki News) What’s more common: street drug abuse or prescription opioid abuse? Based on the numbers alone, shifts in drug choice appear to be shaping abuse.

A recent study searched hospital admission records for drug abuse in 11 major cities.

Result showed consistent declines in traditional street drug abuse, while prescription drug incidence rose 1 percent each year.

"Seek help for any substance dependence."

Asokumar Buvanendran, MD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, presented this evidence at the 2012 Anesthesiology annual conference.

Data for the study was collected from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) from 11 big cities in the U.S. between 2007-2009.

Both prescription pain drug use and street drugs were accounted for in the study

From 2007 to 2009, an 8 percent decline in street drugs and a 2 percent increase in prescription drugs were found across the board.

Broken down by year, street drug abuse was 36 percent in 2007, 32 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2009. Increase in prescription drug abuse was 20 percent in 2007, 21 percent in 2008 and 22 percent in 2009.

The cities involved in the analysis were: Boston, New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle.

The notable exceptions to the averages were spikes in street drugs in New York City, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco and Seattle and dips in street drugs in Minneapolis and Phoenix.

Prescription drug abuse was highest in Houston, 33 percent, and lowest in Chicago.

Dr. Buvanendran said, “We hope the results of this study will aid physicians in effectively treating patients who struggle with prescription drug abuse, as well as encourage widespread patient education about the safe use, storage and disposal of medications.”

These study results were presented at the annul meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiology 2012, held in Washington, D.C. from October 13-17, 2012.

All research presented at conferences before being published in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

Review Date: 
October 15, 2012