(RxWiki News) Drug abuse can take a serious toll on a person’s health and ability to function. Worldwide, the abuse of opioids is far greater than the abuse of any other drug.
In a recent study on drug use, researchers looked at the years of life lost to poor health or early death from drug dependence all over the world.
The researchers found that opioid abuse was responsible for the greatest burden of disease of any drug abused.
"Seek treatment for drug abuse."
Louisa Degenhardt, PhD, professor at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Australia, led a team of researchers to look into the burden of disease from illegal drug use all over the world.
The study authors used three main indicators to gauge drug dependence: strong desire to take the drug, lack of control over drug use and withdrawal symptoms after slowing or stopping drug use.
Using data from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study, the researchers set out to measure years of life lost to poor health or early death from disability associated with drug use and dependence.
For this study, the researchers focused on disability and quality of life lost from amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine and opioid dependence.
Dependence on illegal drugs accounted for 0.8 percent of all years lost to poor health or early death from any disability in 2010.
Across the globe, more people were dependent on opioids and amphetamines than any other drug.
Opioid dependence was responsible for the largest burden of drug-related disability, accounting for 45.9 percent of all of the years of life lost to poor health or early death from drug abuse.
The smallest burden of disease from drug abuse was from cocaine dependence, which was responsible for only 5.5 percent of the years of life lost to poor health or early death.
Drug dependence was greater in high-income countries, such as the US, the UK, Australia and Russia, compared to low-income countries.
Roughly 70 percent of the years of life lost to poor health and early death from opioid and cocaine abuse was in men.
For users of drugs that were injected with needles, HIV was the biggest burden of disease outcome, which accounted for 2.1 million days lost to poor health or early death from drug abuse.
The second largest burden of disease outcome from injection drug use was hepatitis C, which was responsible for 502,000 days lost to poor health or early death in 2010.
The risk for suicide in people with amphetamine dependence was responsible for 854,000 days lost to poor health and early death.
Suicide risk from opioid dependence accounted for 671,000 days lost to poor health and early death. Cocaine dependence was responsible for 324,000 days lost to poor health or early death from suicide risk.
Overall, the researchers calculated that nearly 20 million years of poor health and early death were lost worldwide as a result of drug abuse and dependence.
The study authors recommended opioid treatment centers with opioid substitution therapy, and that clean needle/syringe exchange programs could help lower the global burden of disease associated with illegal drug use.
This study was published in August in The Lancet.
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding for this project.