Philadelphia (July 22, 2011)—A new study by researchers at Drexel University’s School of Public Health suggests that abuse of prescription painkillers may be an important gateway to the use of injected drugs such as heroin, among people with a history of using both types of drugs. The study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, explores factors surrounding young injection drug users’ initiation into the misuse of opioid drugs. Common factors identified in this group included a family history of drug misuse and receiving prescriptions for opioid drugs in the past. The results support a need for efforts to prevent misuse of prescription drugs, particularly during adolescence.
“Participants were commonly raised in household where misuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol, was normalized,” explains Dr. Stephen Lankenau, an associate professor in the School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study. “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.”
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