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A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime finds that the abuse of prescription opioids and synthetic drugs are on the rise globally, while worldwide markets for cocaine, heroin and marijuana have declined or remained stable. The report found the U.S. market for cocaine has experienced massive declines in recent years.

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People who misuse prescription painkillers are much more likely to get the drugs from family and friends than from a doctor, a new study suggests.

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Now that OxyContin has been reformulated to make the opioid harder to snort, inject or chew, The New York Times reports that demand for other narcotics has increased.

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The abuse of prescription drugs among teens is growing in New Jersey and is leading to heroin addiction, experts testified at a state hearing this week.

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A bill introduced this week in the New York Assembly would create a real-time database for prescriptions of controlled substances such as oxycodone. The goal is to cut down on illegal trafficking of opioids.

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A profile of National Institute on Drug Abuse Director, Dr. Nora Volkow, in The New York Times, says her mission is to ensure that the nation’s drug policy, which is increasingly focused on prescription drugs, is grounded in science.

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A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine urges doctors to be more cautious and conservative when it comes to prescribing drugs. An accompanying editorial notes that the problems associated with opioid medications for the treatment of chronic pain are rapidly growing.

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Researchers at the University of Washington found that fatal overdoses in the Seattle area, involving prescription-type opiates, declined for the first time in a decade, from 161 in 2009 to 130 in 2010, though they remain the most common drug type involved in overdose deaths.

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Primary care doctors screen only a small percentage of their patients prescribed long-term opioids, despite the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose, according to researchers in New York. Their study found lax screening even in patients who are at high risk for misuse of opioids, including those with a history of drug abuse or dependence.

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Hospitals and state licensing boards in Minnesota are teaming up to try to cut down on drug thefts in hospitals and nursing homes. A coalition organized by the Minnesota Hospital Association and state Health Department is trying to close loopholes in drug-handling procedures in order to make it more difficult to steal drugs.

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