The misuse of both prescription and illicit drugs is so prevalent in Tijuana and East Los Angeles that community clinics in those areas should routinely, though discreetly, screen for it, according to new UCLA research.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Substance Use and Misuse, found that 19.4 percent of people answering a computerized self-administered survey in East Los Angeles community clinics admitted to moderate-to-high drug use. In Tijuana it was 5.7 percent. Rates of drug use among the participants in the study were much higher than what has been found in household surveys in the two countries.
The researchers also found that Los Angeles patients born in Mexico were twice as likely, and Los Angeles patients born in the United States were six times more likely, of being moderate-to-high drug users compared with Tijuana patients born in Mexico. The findings of high rates of drug use ran counter to assumptions, said Dr. Lillian Gelberg, the study’s lead investigator and a professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.