A new Health Affairs report reveals that the rise in availability and use of the Internet is a major contributor to the trend of prescription drug abuse in the country.
The study shows that a 10% increase in the use of high-speed internet leads to a 1% growth in prescription drug abuse through admissions in a medical facility. The household availability of the Internet increased from 18% in 1997 to 61% in 2007.
The report evaluates internet penetration across various states between 2000 and 2007 to check the effect of broad internet use on the tendency of drug abuse. For that they use the information from the Federal Communications Commission high-speed Internet deployment database and the Treatment Episode Data Set, maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
In this time frame, the states with higher internet growth saw increased admission to substance abuse treatment facilities; while there was not much growth in the abuse of alcohol, cocaine and heroin. A major contributor to this trend is the existence of online pharmacies that sell prescription drugs illegally.