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Contrary to general belief, people who abuse drugs frequently do not get their fix from family members or friends. Instead, they gravitate towards doctors, and abuse prescription drugs. Read on to find the role of doctors in preventing drug addiction.

If someone tells you that to get his daily fix of drugs, he goes to his doctor, you would find it difficult to believe him. But the fact is that he may be telling you the truth. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, the researchers have found that most of the high use abusers, i.e., the addicts who take opioids for more than 200 days in a year, are addicted to prescription drugs. This means that to get their daily fix, these addicts obtain a doctor’s prescription. Compared to one in five of those drug addicts who abuse the drug for less than 30 days in a year, every three of five high use abusers depend on a doctor’s prescription to get their opioids.

The study also found that the high use abusers are also three times more likely to go to drug dealers and buy their fix from them rather that getting the drugs from friends or family members.

People who abuse drugs occasionally are less likely to spend money on buying them.

62% of them are more likely to get these drugs for free from people they are familiar with. On the contrary, the high use abusers are less likely to approach familiar people for their daily fix. Only 26% of them are likely to obtain it from family or friends. They would rather prefer to go to a drug dealer or their doctor.

According to Christopher Jones, the lead author of the study, the research points towards the glaring role that physicians play in drug abuse. Until before the study, the whole focus of controlling drug abuse lay elsewhere.

However, the study shows that for an effective control of drug abuse, the focus should shift on the prevention of abuse of prescription drugs like morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The programs developed to control drug addiction should concentrate their efforts on ensuring that doctors are more judicious while prescribing drugs that have the potential of being abused. There is a need to develop better screening methods so that patients who genuinely need painkillers can be identified from people who take the drugs only to abuse them later. The doctors need to be trained to differentiate between genuine users and people who want to use the medicines for non-medicinal use and once the abusers are identified, how to assist them.

For their study, Dr. Jones and his colleagues collected government data on drug abuse between the period of 2008 and 2011. Analysis of this data brought forth some interesting facts:

  • Prescription opioids were abused at least once a year to get a high by a whopping 12 million of the American population above the age of 12.
  • These opioids were either obtained from family members or friends, purchased from somebody known or from a drug dealer, stolen from a familiar person or obtained through a doctor’s prescription.
  • Among the high use abusers, 27.3% were found to get their drugs through medical prescription and 38.4% bought them from drug dealers.
  • 5.3% of occasional users resorted to theft to get their fix compared to 2.9% of regular users.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Sources of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers by Frequency of Past-Year Nonmedical Use, United States, 2008-2011” by Christopher Jones, Leonard Paulozzi, et al. Published in JAMA in May 2014, accessed on Oct 10, 2014
  • “Prescription drug abuse” posted on the site of WebMD, accessed on Oct 10, 2014.
  • Photo courtesy of Mary Hutchison by Flickr:
  • Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks by Flickr:

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