Fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose in opioid dependent patients treated with methadone, buprenorphine or implant naltrexone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Access

DOI

Authors

Research units

Abstract

Background Illicit opioid use is associated with high rates of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose. This study aims to compare rates of fatal and serious but non-fatal opioid overdose in opioid dependent patients treated with methadone, buprenorphine or implant naltrexone, and to identify risk factors for fatal opioid overdose. Methods Opioid dependent patients treated with methadone (n = 3515), buprenorphine (n = 3250) or implant naltrexone (n = 1461) in Western Australia for the first time between 2001 and 2010, were matched against state mortality and hospital data. Rates of fatal and non-fatal serious opioid overdoses were calculated and compared for the three treatments. Risk factors associated with fatal opioid overdose were examined using multivariate cox proportional hazard models. Results No significant difference was observed between the three groups in terms of crude rates of fatal or non-fatal opioid overdoses. During the first 28 days of treatment, rates of non-fatal opioid overdose were high in all three groups, as were fatal opioid overdoses in patients treated with methadone. However, no fatal opioid overdoses were observed in buprenorphine or naltrexone patients during this period. Following the first 28 days, buprenorphine was shown to be protective, particularly in terms of non-fatal opioid overdoses. After the cessation of treatment, rates of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses were similar between the groups, with the exception of lower rates of non-fatal opioid overdose in the naltrexone treated patients compared with the methadone treated patients. After the commencement of treatment, gender, and hospitalisations with a diagnosis of opioid poisoning, cardiovascular or mental health problems were significant predictors of subsequent fatal opioid overdose. Conclusions Rates of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose were not significantly different in patients treated with methadone, buprenorphine or implant naltrexone. Gender and prior cause-specific hospitalisations can be used to identify patients at a high risk of fatal opioid overdose.

Peer-reviewedYes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalINTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DRUG POLICY
Volume46
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


View connections

ID: 17886629