Misuse of medicines the new danger
Misuse of medicines the new danger

THE misuse of prescribed pharmaceuticals is Australias fastest growing drug problem raising the possibility that deaths from prescribed drugs may eventually surpass those from illicit drug overdoses doctors have warned

Structural issues in the health system including limitations of GP consultations and rapid hospital discharges are contributing to an explosion in prescriptions for opiods benzodiazepines and codeinecontaining analgesics

These drugs are being diverted for nonmedical use by ill people seeking to supplement low incomes while doctors also report that young people are increasingly initiating drug use with their parents leftover scripts for painkillers sleeping pills or stressreducing drugs

Soft stance on drugs a dangerous catalyst

Between 2002 and 2006 the use of legal narcotic drugs in the United States increased by 60 per cent and consumption of pharmaceutical amphetamines rose by 42 per cent

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention poisoning deaths involving opiod analgesics including oxycodone methadone and hydrocone more than tripled from 1999 to 2007

The data suggests Australia is on quota similar trajectoryquot says Professor Ann Roche the lead architect of the federal governments national pharmaceutical drug misuse strategy

The trends which have also been seen in Europe and Canada are so strong that it is likely quotthe misuse of pharmaceuticals may displace black market drugs as one of our biggest drug problemsquot said Professor Roche who is also director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University

In 2008 per capita use of oxycodone often sold in Australia as OxyContin and prescribed for moderate to severe pain reached 60 kilograms per million population eight years after the US reached this level

Studies reveal an exponential increase in the supply of oxycodone to Australia from 951 kilograms in 1999 to 16203 kilograms in 2010 along with substantial increases in harm episodes and deaths In metropolitan Melbourne last year the highest number of drugrelated callouts after alcohol was for benzodiazepines a drug commonly prescribed for sleeping and anxiety issues

Professor Roche said there was a high level of prescribing of opiates as the first line of treatment for chronic nonmalignant noncancer pain which was quotnot always appropriatequot The push for rapid discharge of patients from hospitals meant many people left with large amounts of opiods or scripts for them

With a tab of oxycodone selling on the black market for 50 to 100 a phenomenon of quotuse a little sell a littlequot had arisen she said quotSome people with a legitimate health problem can supplement their income or pension by onselling their drugs because there is such a high demand for themquot

GPs needed better training and support to treat pain using nondrug therapies and there was a great need for more multidisciplinary pain management clinics said the president of the Australian Medical Association Steve Hambleton

But people thought and expected there should be quota pill for all illsquot and they should not have to suffer any physical or psychological pain said Professor Dan Lubman the director of the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne

Diversion of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes quotis an incredibly important issue for us to think aboutquot he told the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists conference last week

Date : 28 May, 2012
Reference : http://www.greatlakesadvocate.com.au/news/national/national/general/misuse-of-medicines-the-new-dang

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