The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday announced the top five types of drugs abused in Taiwan in the first 10 months of this year, saying that the use of sleeping pills has increased steadily over the past six years.
Heroin topped the list of most abused drugs for the sixth straight year, accounting for 66.8 percent of all substance abuse cases, followed by amphetamine and ketamine, which accounted for 33.1 percent and 5 percent respectively, the FDA said in a press release.
Zolpidem — a prescription medication used for the treatment of insomnia — accounted for 4.3 percent of all drug abuse cases, while ecstasy represented 3.4 percent.
The FDA said that the percentage of drug abuse cases involving Zolpidem was 0.7 percent in 2007, rising to 1.6 percent the following year. Last year, 2.3 percent of all substance abuse cases in Taiwan involved Zolpidem.
Chi Mei Hospital Psychiatry Department head Lin Jin-jia (林進嘉) said sleep difficulties can be caused by a variety of factors, including anxiety, depression and stress, and that overreliance on sleeping pills can lead to substance addiction.
Tsai Wen-ying (蔡文瑛), an official at the FDA, urged people suffering from sleeping disorders or pain to seek medical help.
Increasing the dosage of sleeping pills or painkillers without seeking medical advice can cause health problems, Tsai said.
According to the FDA, heroin is still the main culprit in drug abuse cases in Taiwan, accounting for more than 90 percent of case between 2007 and 2010, and 83.3 percent last year.
Ketamine abuse lingered at around 1 percent between 2007 and 2009, increasing to 1.5 percent in 2010 and 2.4 percent a year later. This year, that number doubled this year to 5 percent.