Majority Of Patients Are Misusing Prescription Drugs
According to a recent report by Quest Diagnostics, a laboratory testing company, as many as 54% of patients misused prescription drugs in 2015. This number was close to the results found in both 2013 and 2014. The annual Quest Diagnostics Health Trends report “provides diagnostics insights in managing the drug epidemic in the United States.”
The company analyzed more than 3 million test results. Of the tests identifying misuse, 45% revealed evidence of patients mixing medications in combinations which could be dangerous. This result was notably higher than in previous years – 32% in 2011 and 35% in 2014. Certain drug combinations, such as opioids and sedatives, can cause life-threatening central nervous system depression.
F. Leland McClure III, Quest Diagnostics:
“The discovery that a growing percentage of people are combining drugs without their physician’s knowledge is deeply troubling, given the dangers. Perhaps patients do not understand that mixing even small doses of certain drugs is hazardous, or they mistakenly believe prescription medications are somehow safe.”
The three categories of inconsistent results are as follows: no drugs found (32%), additional drugs found (45%), and different drugs found (23%).
Rates of inconsistent prescription drug use in children between ages 10-17 dropped from 70% in 2011 to just 44% last year.
Amphetamines and methylphenidate (both prescribed for ADHD) were associated with the most Inconsistent results for children under 10 years of age.
Benzodiazepines had the highest number of inconsistent test results for patients 25 and over. In patients over 18, opioids were the second-highest – a disturbing statistic.
The percentage of test results which revealed inconsistent drug use with no trace of any drug fell from 40% in 2011 to 32% last year. This may indicate patients are not taking their medications due to side effects, insufficient funds, or drug diversion.
Patients with hepatitis C tested positive for non-prescribed drugs more often than people without the virus (66% versus 51%). Also, hepatitis C sufferers revealed evidence of non-prescribed painkiller use and heroin at a much higher rate that those without the condition.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology