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Health Promot Perspect. 2012;2(2): 153-165.
doi: 10.5681/hpp.2012.018
PMID: 24688929
PMCID: PMC3963639
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  PDF Download: 656

Original Research

Exploring the Etiologic Factors and Dynamics of Prescription Drug Abuse in Southwest Virginia

Kerry J Redican, Lydia I Marek, Donna JP Brock, Elinore F McCance-Katz

Abstract

Background: Prescription drug abuse in Southwest Virginia is a serious problem affecting indi-viduals, families, and communities. The aim of this study was to characterize and understand the extent of the prescription drug abuse problem in Southwest, Virginia as well as the dynamics that surround that abuse. More specifically, the study focused on learning the extent of the problem along with which prescription drugs are typically used prior to entering treatment, reasons for prescription drug and methadone abuse, and the sources for prescription drug use, misuse and abuse. Methods: Mixed methodology was employed which included surveying methadone clinic con-sumers at two treatment clinics in Southwest, Virginia and seven focus field interviews of key community stakeholders. Results: The extent of prescription drug abuse is high and that the demographics of prescription drug users are getting younger and now involve more males than females. Oxycodone, hydroco¬done, methadone, and morphine were the most commonly used drugs prior to enrollment in the clinics with over one-half of methadone-maintained consumers reporting that they had abused benzodiazepines along with opioids. Focus groups and clinic consumer data highlighted the key etiological factors in prescription drug abuse: use (due to workforce related injuries) turning to abuse, wanting to get high, overprescribing and physician issues, lack of information, and cultural acceptance of drug taking as problem solving behavior. The two most common sources for the abused prescription drugs were physicians and street dealers. Conclusions: A constellation of conditions have led to the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Southwest Virginia, including poverty, unemployment and work-related injuries, besides, public health education programs on the dangers of prescription opiate misuse and abuse are urgently needed.
Keywords: Prescription drug abuse, Substance Abuse, Methadone
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Submitted: 20 Jun 2012
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