Misuse of medicines in the European Union: a systematic review of the literature

European Addiction Research
Alicia CasatiTim Pfeiffer-Gerschel


Although awareness of the misuse of medicines is increasing, data on the extent of the problem in the European Union (EU) are lacking. In order to assess the magnitude and severity of the problem, a systematic review of the literature on the misuse of analgesics, opioid substitution medicines and sedatives/hypnotics (with the exception of benzodiazepines) was conducted using the PubMed and Web of Science databases. Relevant literature was identified between 2001 and 2011. The main groups of misused medicines include opioid analgesics, methadone, buprenorphine and Z-drugs. Regional trends in medicine misuse indicate heterogeneity across the EU with respect to misused medicine types and research activities. Prevalence, high-risk populations and factors contributing to medicine misuse are discussed. The implications of these findings for prevention, treatment, and policy in the EU are considered.


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