Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Prescription opioids replace heroin as drug of choice on street: study

Finally there is some data that backs up what many of us have suspected. The growth in prescription drug abuse shouldn't be a surprise. I see two reasons for this: access and price.

If you live in Vancouver, heroin is probably a lot easier to find and with that higher level of supply brings a relatively lower price. I would suspect that an addict in smaller centres such as Saint John or Edmonton (for example) would have trouble getting heroin as easily or cheaply than prescription narcotics. Heroin needs to be shipped in from around the world and goes through a long and twisted supply chain. Meanwhile, there are pharmacies that dispense narcotics (which can be diverted to the street) in even the smallest towns and cities.

While this is concerning, I will mention that I feel for those in legitimate pain and need opoids for chronic pain relief. Many of these individuals are already viewed with a level of suspicion unseen in other medical conditions. Reports like this will not make it easier for these patients to convince everyone that they aren't addicts or traffickers.

From CBC News:
Heroin is no longer the drug of choice among many substance abusers in Canada, with prescription narcotics such as morphine and OxyContin now taking its place, says a study of street users in seven cities across the country.

Researchers found that heroin remains the No. 1 illicit drug only in Vancouver and Montreal. In the five other cities - Edmonton, Toronto, Quebec City, Fredericton and Saint John, N.B. - more often than not, getting high means grinding up and injecting prescription opioids. ...more

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