Painkillers open way to high-risk behaviours

July 25th, 2011 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 25 (IANS) Indiscriminate use of painkillers may open the way to drug abuse among people with a history of using both types of drugs, a study says.

The study, by Drexel University’s School of Public Health researchers, explores factors surrounding young drug users’ initiation into the misuse of opioid drugs.

Opioids are among the world’s oldest known drugs. Their painkilling effects are due to decreased perception of pain, decreased reaction to pain as well as increased pain tolerance.

The results support a need for efforts to prevent misuse of prescription drugs, particularly during adolescence, the International Journal of Drug Policy reports.

“Participants were commonly raised in households where misuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol was normalised,” explains Stephen Lankenau, associate professor at Drexel and principal study investigator.

“Access to prescription medications - either from a participant’s own source, a family member, or a friend - was a key feature of initiation into prescription drug misuse,” he added, according to a Drexel statement.

Opioid misuse is an important public health concern due to the increasing association of opioids with drug dependence and fatal overdose.

Researchers interviewed 50 young intravenous drug users aged between 16 and 25 years, who had misused a prescription drug at least three times in the past three months, to study contextual factors leading to their use of opioid drugs.

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