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Prescription Opioids Abused More Than Heroin - A Report Says

A new study conducted in seven Canadian cities reveals that the legal prescription drugs such as OxyContin or Demerol is becoming more prevalent //than heroin, raising questions about drug control in the country. The research shows that the users turning to opioids or prescription painkillers are at increasing rate though heroin addiction is one of the most significant problems in Canada for years.

Dr. Benedikt Fischer, a researcher and leader of the study funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research says: 'It is surprising because we assume the medical system is a safe and protected system when the truth is that is not the case at all.' - The study is published in Tuesday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

OxyContin, morphine, Demerol, Percodan and Tylenol 3 or 4 are some of the common opioids prescribed and many people get those drugs from legitimate medical sources by visiting walk-in medical clinics or hospital emergency rooms or even through internet buy and sell options.

Researchers found that out of the 7 cities where the study was conducted, heroin still remains No.1 illicit drug in Vancouver and Montreal. In the other five cities - Edmonton, Toronto, Quebec City, Fredericton and Saint John, N.B. - more often than not, people getting high means grinding up and injecting prescription opioids have been found. The study also showed that heroin in 2005 wasn't even a factor among injection drug abusers in Fredericton, and it was barely used in Edmonton and Quebec City.

'Our drug control policies ought to be targeting prescription opioid abuse more effectively,' said Fischer, who is based at the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria. 'But we also need to ensure we do not compromise legitimate access to and uses of prescription opioids.'

Dr. Quirion, Montreal, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction said: 'although there hav e been reports on the increased levels of prescription opioid abuse in Canada and other jurisdictions, there has until now not been a systematic documentation of usage patterns among street drug users.'

But now the study of Dr. Fischer and his team provides us with the scientific evidence needed to improve public policy and treatment programs - a key to ultimately improving the health of Canadians,' Dr. Quirion added.
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