Opiate abuse is among the top abused drugs and has an extremely high rate of mortality. Death is most often caused by overdose. Like many drugs over time use and high doses the body starts to tolerate the drug and the drug in this case opiates become less effective. Therefore, the user increases the dose to receive the same effect it once had. Unfortunately, that “feeling” the abusers are looking for requires more opiates than their body can handle and the end result is death.
“Information on 5,577 patients who had a substance abuse diagnosis and received 267,003 OST prescriptions during 1990-2005 was evaluated. These patients were followed up until one year after the expiry of their last OST prescription, or the date of death. The researchers looked at mortality rates comparing periods in and out of treatment programs compared with the general population. A total of 178 (3%) patients died either on treatment or within a year of their last prescription. The rate of death amongst people off treatment was almost double that of people taking treatment.”
Clinical Study of OST (Opiate Substitution Treatment)
During the first two week period of the year long study the mortality rate was the at 1.7%. When the study ended, the researchers found that the patients morality rate immediately following the end of the OST was almost nine times higher than when they started the study.
The Good News
The OST has an 85% chance of greatly reducing opiate abuse and patients who stay with the one year program have an 85% chance or higher of avoided an early death.
Conclusion quote „Clinicians and patients should be aware of the increased mortality risk at the start of opiate substitution treatment and immediately after stopping treatment. Further research is needed to investigate the effect of average duration of opiate substitution treatment on drug related mortality.