The National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) is a national response centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for drug addiction prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of both inpatients and outpatients. Medical care is supported by clinical laboratory services, including toxicology for the detection of drugs in patients’ samples (primarily urine). The results of these tests have allowed the NRC to detect the drugs within the substance-using patient population and monitor trends in those detections in order to provide an evidence-based assessment of drugs within the UAE area applicable to the wider Middle East region. This article presents the outcomes of this over a 6-year extended period, between 2013 and 2018, representing 14247 samples confirmed positive for various types of drugs and substances. Across the 6 years, there has been a constant presence of amphetamines, opiates, tramadol, cannabis, benzodiazepines, pregabalin, gabapentin, antihistamines, methorphans, carisoprodol and ketamine found in patient samples. However, there have been changes in the relative frequency during this time, including an increase in amphetamines, a recent decrease in tramadol and frequent detection of cannabis, pregabalin, benzodiazepines and cough syrup constituents (antihistamines and methorphans). Furthermore, in the past few years there has been an increasing number of samples related to gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) use. These data provide drug and drug trend information within a substance-using patient population in the UAE to assist in improving knowledge associated with global monitoring of drug abuse within the Middle East region that is often not sufficiently represented in such monitoring systems.
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