Weekend-Only Drug Use: Still Cause for Concern

Recreational drug use on weekends often progressed to daily use

(RxWiki News) When it comes to habit-forming illegal drugs, weekend-only users may not limit their use to weekends for long.

A new study found that weekend-only recreational drug use turned into weekday use for most patients in less than a year.

"These findings suggest the importance of periodic monitoring of 'recreational' drug use," wrote the authors of this study, led by Judith Bernstein, RNC, PhD, of the Boston University School of Public Health. "A single-question standardized screen can be used to elicit necessary information. Primary care clinicians are in a position to support positive behavior change as well as to address increases in drug use intensity as an integral part of their role."

Dr. Bernstein and team studied data for almost 500 adults who saw their primary care doctors from 2009 to 2011. These patients said they used illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and opioids. About 11 percent called themselves weekend-only users at their first doctor visit.

Those who used recreational drugs on weekends only had lower odds of increasing drug use and severity than more frequent users, Dr. Bernstein and team found. However, six months later, more than half of the initial weekend-only users were taking drugs on other days of the week.

A 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse showed that 6 percent of Americans ages 12 and older used illegal drugs. Drug use among patients often goes undetected, Dr. Bernstein and team said.

This study was limited to a small, inner-city population with recent drug use and may not apply to other settings, Dr. Bernstein and team said. However, recreational drug use patterns may change over time and should be monitored, they said.

"These findings suggest caution in accepting recreational drug use as reassuring, and the importance of following patients in whom drug use is identified," Dr. Bernstein and colleagues wrote.

This study was published May 11 in the Annals of Family Medicine.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this research. Dr. Bernstein and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 11, 2015