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Addicts getting fix from painkillers as more users treated for...

The number of patients being treated for illegal use of prescription drugs in the UAE, including medicine for sufferers of Parkinson's disease, has risen "drastically", a study has said.

The study by the National Rehabilitation Centre also found there has been a sharp rise in the number of patients downing three or more pharmaceutical drugs

at once in an attempt to maximise their effects.

The study examined the records of nearly 600 addicts over the past 10 years, and found there has been an increase in the use of prescription painkillers such as tramadol, methadone and codeine, and sedatives such as Xanax and Valium.

Other psychoactive drugs on the rise include the stimulant khat and the drugs Kemadrin and Artane, which are meant to help stop the shakes in Parkinson's patients. The number of patients being admitted for pharmaceutical and psychoactive drug treatment jumped from about five a year in 2009 to about 60 last year.

The study was carried out with the Department of Statistics and the Institute of Public Health at the UAE University and Aberdeen University in Scotland. It found that in the past five years there has been an increase in the treatment of almost all addictive drugs recorded, including alcohol, marijuana and solvents.

Only heroin showed a significant decrease.

The study also found that nearly half of all patients

seeking help for heroin addiction had contracted hepatitis C. The government-supported Abu Dhabi clinic was set up in 2002 to treat mostly Emirati addicts. This is the first time there has been an in-depth look into the type of people seeking treatment and the type of drugs they are using.

Alongside the rise in pharmaceutical drug treatment, there has also been a sharp rise in the number of people voluntarily entering the rehab centre, rather than being forced to go there by a court. Dr Dolly Habbal, clinical psychologist at Gulf Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi, said she was not surprised by the

findings, adding she had also seen a sharp rise in the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

"They are much easier to get than cocaine and other drugs. I don't offer prescriptions to people for painkillers such as Tramadol because some people tell you it's for pain when it's not," she said.

sean@7days.ae

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Aug 21, 2013
Words:395
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