Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Incidence and predictors of drug overdoses among a cohort of >10,000 patients treated for substance use disorder

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Background: Drug overdoses remain a significant public health burden throughout the world. This study assessed the incidence and predictors of non-fatal and fatal drug overdoses among patients with an opioid use, treated for drug use disorders (DUD) at public treatment centers in Denmark. Methods: A consecutive cohort of patients (n = 11,199) were tracked from date of first registered enrollment between the year 2000 and 2010 to first registered drug overdose, death or December 31st 2010, whichever occurred first. Competing-risks regression models were fitted to estimate the sub hazard ratios (SHRs) of non-fatal and fatal drug overdoses and confounding risk factors. Results: A total of 3186 (28%) patients experienced a non-fatal drug overdose during follow-up, and 572 (6%) died from an overdose. Use of benzodiazepines (SHR: 1.15 95% CI 1.03, 1.28) was significantly associated with non-fatal overdose. Intravenous drug use and previous hospitalization for a non-fatal overdose increased the risk of later non-fatal (SHR: 1.57 95% CI 1.42, 1.73) and fatal overdoses (SHR: 1.43 95% CI 1.12, 1.82). Conclusions: Patients who use opioids remain at risk of overdoses for a long time after discharge from drug treatment. Besides relevant monitoring and psychosocial support in opioid maintenance treatment, there is a need for informing and educating opioid users in risk factors and preventive measures in settings where they are often difficult to access for traditional treatment services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107714
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Longitudinal, Methadone, Opioid, Overdose, Risk, Substance use disorders

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