People who initially use drugs only on the weekend often start using them during the week, a new study suggests.
Boston University researchers studied 483 primary care patients who admitted to using drugs in the past month.
Of these patients, 89 percent said they used drugs on weekdays and weekends. Of the 11 percent who said they only used drugs on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday, more than half of them—54 percent—admitted to using drugs during the week when they were surveyed six months later.
Only 19 percent continued to use drugs only on the weekend, while 27 percent said they stopped using drugs altogether.
"The study shows us that patterns change," lead author Judith Bernstein told the Los Angeles Times.
The study appears in Annals of Family Medicine.
Most of the participants were male and African American. They were visiting their primary care doctor for regular care, not drug care, the article notes.
"These findings suggest caution in accepting recreational drug use as reassuring, and the importance of following patients in whom drug use is identified," the researchers wrote.
"When I was working in clinical care I would have patients say, 'I just use drugs on the weekend' or 'I'm just a recreational user' as if that doesn't matter so much," Bernstein said. "I think clinicians need to understand a little more than perhaps they do now on how these patterns change over time."
If a patient admits to weekend drug use, many doctors do not ask about it during subsequent visits, Bernstein noted. She says it is important for doctors to continue to ask about drug use, in part because changes in drug use can interfere with the effectiveness of medications for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.