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Study: Friends, Relatives Biggest Source of Opiate Painkillers


A startling 97 percent of individuals who misused painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin said that they got the drug from a friend or relative with a prescription, HealthDay News reported Feb. 18.

Researchers who surveyed 5,300 adults in Utah found that 85.2 percent of individuals who misused prescription opiate painkillers said friends or relatives gave them the drug willingly, while 9.8 percent said they took the drug from friends or relatives without their knowledge. Only 4.1 percent of those surveyed said they had bought the drug.

About three-quarters of those who got the drugs from friends or relatives said they did so to relieve pain; 15 percent said they acquired the drugs “for fun.”

Study co-author Erin Johnson of the Utah Department of Health urged residents to discard their leftover medication, but acknowledged that many people are unwilling to do so because they paid for the drugs and believe they might need to use them in the future.

The study was published Feb. 19, 2010 in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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