Aims: To compare morbidity and mortality in opioid dependence patients following the commencement of treatment with the general population.
Methods: Morbidity and mortality in all patients treated with methadone, buprenorphine or implant naltrexone for opioid dependence for the first time between 2001 and 2010 in Western Australia was compared to a cohort of age and gender matched controls using state health records.
Results: Compared to community controls rates of all-cause mortality, hospital admissions and Emergency Department attendances are significantly elevated in opioid dependent persons following the commencement of their first treatment. Not surprisingly, rates of opioid and non-opioid drug poisoning, and intentional self-harm/suicide mortality and hospital admissions were significantly elevated in opioid dependent patients compared with non-dependent controls. However, significant increases in mortality and hospital admissions for conditions which are not generally associated with opioid use were also identified including cardiovascular, respiratory and traffic accidents. Life-time prevalence of both HBV and HCV were significantly elevated in opioid dependent patients compared with non-dependent patients.
Conclusions: Even after the commencement of treatment, opioid dependent patients are at a high risk of morbidity and mortality compared with non-dependent age and gender matched controls.