Impact of slow-release oral morphine on drug abusing habits in Austria.

Beer,B.; Rabl,W.; Libiseller,K.; Giacomuzzi,S.; Riemer,Y.; Pavlic,M.
A well-established possibility to treat opiate addiction is the participation in opiate maintenance treatment programmes. For this purpose the opioids methadone and buprenorphine have been evaluated and are used nowadays in many countries. However, since 1998 also the use of slow-release oral morphine (SROM) has been legally permitted in Austria. Our data show that these morphine preparations are frequently abused and are dominating the black market in the meantime. Especially the intravenous consumption of SROM goes along with highly dangerous side effects that exceed the risks of needle sharing alone. Special galenics are supposed to ensure a 24 h effect of the otherwise quickly metabolised morphine. If dissolved and injected, insoluble contents such as talcum cause microembolisms, leading to severe damages of the inner organs. Furthermore, SROM, i.e. a drug prescribed by physicians, has been proved to be the main responsible substance in most drug related deaths since its permission and has nearly replaced heroin. Forensic physicians play a major role in the profound examination of these cases, including extensive toxicological analyses and interpretation of results. For instance, a differentiation between a recent morphine and heroin consumption is certainly possible, provided appropriate methods are used. A reliable estimation of the current situation of drug abusing habits is a premise for adequate therapeutic offers and preventive measures. Thus, well-founded and comparable data have to be collected. To facilitate data report a standardized report form has been developed that includes an obligatory statement regarding morphine or heroin consumption. This should help to enlighten the ongoing discussion on the role of SRM in drug abuse cases. Our results indicate that the prescription of SROM in opiate maintenance therapy has to be handled very strictly and should be reserved for special patients only. A slackening of the Austrian law concerning SROM is therefore objected
Neuropsychiatr. 2010 24(2):108-117
PubMed: 20605006
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