Pattern of drugs of abuse identified in chemical samples
Objective: To determine the pattern of drugs of abuse in urine and blood samples processed at referral laboratory in Pakistan so that information on the type of drugs used can be identified and used for ready reference for future strategy. Study Design: Observational study. Place and Duration of Study: Clinical Laboratory of The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, from July 2006 to March 2008. Methodology: Retrospective review of records were done for the common drugs that are used for screening at the Clinical Laboratory include alcohol, amphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine and opiates. Alcohol was tested in blood and others were identified using urine. Percentages of tests screened positive and negative for individual drugs were computed by using SPSS 16.0. The ratio between male and female users was also established. Results: A total of 17,714 tests were performed for drugs. The mean age of the patients whose samples were processed was 30±14.84 years. Majority used benzodiazepines 520/1317 (39.5%) among the samples tested for drug of abuse, followed by cannabinoids 423/5450 (7.8%), alcohol 75/1302 (5.8%), barbiturates 32/1148 (2.8%), opiates 137/5640 (2.4%), cocaine 5/1655 (0.3%) and amphetamine 3/1202 (0.2%). In all, males 15411 (87%) were tested more frequently as compared to females 2303 (13%). Conclusion: Males were more frequently tested for drug abuse; however, drug abuse is increasingly seen among females. Benzodiazepines are the most frequently used. The same pattern of drugs abuse existed in different gender and age group. There is a need to explore the pattern and type of drug abuse on national scale.