Posted Friday, Oct. 26, 2012
The number of drug and alcohol problems diagnosed by U.S. doctors increased by 70 percent in an 8-year span, according to new research. The rise may be the result of growing painkiller abuse.
Reported this week by Reuters, the study’s lead author — who used data from 2001 to 2009 to conduct the research — Dr. Joseph W. Frank of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said: “We know that increases in prescription drug use are a big part of what's going on nationally. I also think – in our study – the availability of effective treatment is a big part of it as well and likely drawing people into care.”
The ‘treatments’ Frank is referencing include medications such as methadone, as well as therapy.
The study estimated that the number of visits involving drug or alcohol abuse or addiction increased from 10.6 million between 2001 and 2003 to 18 million between 2007 and 2009.
“This finding is consistent with trends in substance use disorder-related utilization at the nation's community health centers and emergency departments and, sadly, use of its morgues,” Reuters reported that the study's authors commented this week.
Although alcohol- and drug-related diagnoses show alarming growth, according to the study, some still find a bright spot in the findings. Specifically, the number of medicines prescribed to treat drug or alcohol problems during doctors' visits increased by about as much as the number of visits related to opioid abuse.
Those medicines were prescribed to 643,000 people between 2001 and 2003. Between 2007 and 2009, it rose to 3.9 million people.
Click here to read the full story from Reuters.