The rising prescription rate and greater availability has likely contributed to an increase in number of patients in treatment. Admission for drug abuse treatment programs for hydrocodone and related opiates more than quadrupled between 1997 and 2007, according to a 2007 report from the National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (This does not include the opiate heroin, which remained stable over that time.)
Knowing if a military member is misusing or abusing hydrocodone is essential to national security and to the safety of military personnel. In 2005, the Department of Defense found that 7.3% of active duty personnel across all branches of the military had used analgesics including hydrocodone without a medical need in the previous year.
Doctors have several tests to determine who is using hydrocodone or other illicit drugs, but they are inadequate. The simplest -- a screening questionnaire -- is not definitive. And current blood or urine tests for hydrocodone only determine whether the drug been used in the last few hours or days. In addition, several drugs cross react in the blood test, making them unreliable.
More important, there is no current screening test for recent or past hydrocodone use. Psychotherapeutics rank right behind marijuana as the most commonly abused drugs among the military and civilians, and hydrocodone and other pain relievers are the most popular of the psychotherapeutics.
To determine if someone had been using hydrocodone in the recent past, the researchers will take snapshots of changes that can be detected in blood or urine. "We already know how it works in the brain, so we will focus on the body.
|Contact: Mary Beckman|
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory