Researchers develop new ways to predict number of drug users
A team of researchers have developed a new method of predicting the number of drug users in the population by looking at the number of recorded overdose deaths among drug users.
In research published today in the American Journal of Epidemiology a team of researchers from Imperial College London, the Health Protection Agency, Medical Research Council and GlaxoSmithKline analysed the numbers of opiate and injecting drug users who had overdoses, to see if it was possible to model long term trends for the number of opiate or injecting drug users. They also found the number of overdoses among opiate and injecting drug users has risen nearly 100 fold in thirty years from around 9 in 1968 to more than 900 by 2000.
Dr Matthew Hickman, from Imperial College London, based at Charing Cross Hospital, and one of the authors of the research, comments: “These results could help provide better data on the true number of drug users in the population and help provide the government with a far better surveillance tool than they currently have. Often the true level of drug use is hidden within populations, but this method could be used to provide a more accurate picture.”
The researchers analysed data for England and Wales between 1968 and 2000, looking at 7375 deaths in people aged 15-44, which had been coded as drug misuse or accidental opiate overdose, and used a back calculation method to estimate long term trends.
The results suggested that there have been two epidemic periods with the numbers of new opiate and injecting drug users having increased three-fold between 1975 and 1979 and up to five to six-fold between 1987 and 1995. Models looking at recent data suggest the numbers of new opiate users may have recently declined.
The results also suggested the number of current opiate and injecting drug users has continued to rise since the early 1970s, doubling between 1977 and 1982, and possibly rising four-fold from 1987 to 1996 though slowing from 1997.
Dr Daniela de Angelis, from the Health Protection Agency and the MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, and one of the authors of the research adds: “Although these figures are alarming, they do need to be treated with caution. They were calculated using a method which ideally requires better information on opiate users’ death rates and how long they inject for, but the figures do serve to highlight some important issues.”
Dr Hickman adds: “These figures point to an alarming rise in the numbers of deaths from drug overdoses, something the government urgently needs to take action on. Rather than just spending money on treating existing drug addicts, there is a need for better health education to stop people becoming addicted in the first place.”
The research was funded by the Research and Development Department of Health, with the Office of National Statistics providing the data on deaths over time.
Tony Stephenson | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...