Illicit drug use is an important public health problem. Identifying conditions that coexist with illicit drug use is necessary for planning health services. This study described the prevalence and factors associated with social and health problems among clients seeking treatment for illicit drug use.
We carried out cross-sectional analyses of baseline data of 2526 clients who sought treatment for illicit drug use at Helsinki Deaconess Institute between 2001 and 2008. At the clients' first visit, trained clinicians conducted face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to compute adjusted odds ratios (AORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for factors associated with social and health problems.
The mean age of the clients was 25 years, 21% (n?=?519) were homeless, 54% (n?=?1363) were unemployed and 7% (n?=?183) had experienced threats of violence. Half of the clients (50%, n?=?1258) were self-referred and 31% (n?=?788) used opiates as their primary drugs of abuse. Hepatitis C (25%, n?=?630) was more prevalent than other infectious diseases and depressive symptoms (59%, n?=?1490) were the most prevalent psychological problems. Clients who were self-referred to treatment were most likely than others to report social problems (AOR?=?1.86; 95% CI?=?1.50-2.30) and psychological problems (AOR?=?1.51; 95% CI?=?1.23-1.85). Using opiates as primary drugs of abuse was the strongest factor associated with infectious diseases (AOR?=?3.89; 95% CI?=?1.32-11.46) and for reporting a combination of social and health problems (AOR?=?3.24; 95% CI?=?1.58-6.65).
The existence of illicit drug use with other social and health problems could lead to increased utilisation and cost of healthcare services. Coexisting social and health problems may interfere with clients' treatment response. Our findings support the call for integration of relevant social, medical and mental health support services within drug treatment programmes.
Providing unobserved opioid substitution treatment (OST) safely is a major challenge. This study examined whether electronic medicine dispensers (EMDs) can reduce diversion of take-home buprenorphine-naloxone (BNX) in a medium-sized Finnish city. All BNX treated OST patients in Kuopio received their take-home BNX in EMDs for 4months. EMDs' effect on diversion was investigated using questionnaires completed by patients (n=37) and treatment staff (n=19), by survey at the local needle exchange service and by systematic review of drug screen data from the Kuopio University Hospital. The majority of patients (n=21, 68%) and treatment staff (n=11, 58%) preferred to use EMDs for the safe storage of tablets. Five patients (16%) declared that EMDs had prevented them from diverting BNX. However, EMDs had no detectable effect on the availability or origin of illegal BNX or on the hospital-treated buprenorphine-related health problems. EMDs may improve the safety of storage of take-home BNX, but their ability to prevent diversion needs further research.
Abuse of prescription opioids is becoming increasingly widespread. This study compared the social, health and treatment-related factors associated with buprenorphine and amphetamine abuse in Finland. Structured clinical interviews were conducted with clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine (n=670) or amphetamine (n=557) abuse in Helsinki from January 2001 to August 2008. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed for factors associated with buprenorphine compared to amphetamine abuse. In multivariate analyses, buprenorphine abuse was associated with male gender (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.17-2.09), daily abuse (OR 5.45, 95% CI 4.14-7.18), no drug free months during the last year (OR 1.68, 95%CI 1.23-2.29), and inversely associated with increasing age (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.93-0.97 per year) and psychotic symptoms (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.24-0.45). Despite more intense abuse patterns, clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine abuse shared similar characteristics to amphetamine clients. These characteristics were different to characteristics of those who abuse prescription opioids in North America. This is important for developing and targeting intervention programs.
Finnish community pharmacies have been permitted to dispense buprenorphine-naloxone since February 2008. This study explored the dispensing practices, service experiences, problems encountered and opportunities for future development.
In August 2011, a questionnaire was mailed to all Finnish community pharmacies dispensing buprenorphine-naloxone (n=69).
Sixty-four pharmacies responded (93%), of which 54 had dispensed buprenorphine-naloxone to 155 clients since 2008. Forty-eight pharmacies had 108 current clients (10% of all buprenorphine-naloxone clients in Finland). Overall satisfaction with buprenorphine-naloxone dispensing was high, with all respondents indicating dispensing had gone 'well' or 'very well'. Fourteen pharmacies (26%) had experienced one or more problems, predominately in relation timing or non-collection of doses. Problems were more common in pharmacies with more than one buprenorphine-naloxone client (odds ratio 1.39, 95% confidence interval 1.05-1.86). Most pharmacies (n=43, 80%) identified opportunities for improvement, including the need for more education and financial remuneration. Forty-six pharmacies (85%) were willing to dispense buprenorphine-naloxone to more clients; however, 43 pharmacies (80%) perceived that supervision of buprenorphine-naloxone dosing is not a suitable task for pharmacists in Finland.
Provision of buprenorphine-naloxone in Finnish community pharmacies has remained relatively small-scale. As experiences have been generally positive and problems rare, it may be possible to expand these services.
It is unclear whether buprenorphine abuse is associated with a similar risk of death to other substance abuse. This study examined all-cause mortality rates and causes of deaths among clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine abuse.
Structured clinical interviews were conducted with 4685 clients between January 1998 and August 2008. Records of deaths that occurred among these clients were extracted from the Official Causes of Death Register in Finland. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using national mortality rates over a 13-year follow-up to examine excess mortality. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to compare survival between buprenorphine and other clients.
Sixty-one of 780 (7.8%) clients who sought treatment for buprenorphine abuse and 408 of 3905 (10.4%) other clients died during the 13-year follow-up period. The most common cause of death was drug-related in buprenorphine (n=25, 41.0%) and other clients (n=142, 34.8%). Survival rates were similar among buprenorphine and other clients (log-rank ?[df=1](2)=0.215, p=0.643). The SMR was 3.0 (95% CI 2.3-3.8) and 3.1 (95% CI 2.8-3.4) for buprenorphine and other clients, respectively. Excess mortality was highest among women aged 20-29 years, and more pronounced in buprenorphine clients (SMR 27.9 [95% CI 12.6-49.0]) compared to other clients (SMR 14.0 [95% CI 9.3-19.6]).
Clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine abuse had a three times higher mortality rate than the national average, with the excess risk highest among female clients. Overall mortality rates were similar among clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine and other substance abuse.
The epidemiological part of the Huume tietokanta (HUUTI) consortium research project is the first large-scale longitudinal study of treatment-seeking illicit drug abusers in Finland. The objective of this report was to describe the sociodemographic characteristics and drug abuse patterns of treatment-seeking clients at their first visit. This study analysed baseline data of 4817 clients (3365 men and 1452 women) aged 11-65 years who sought treatment for drug abuse between 1997 and 2008 at Helsinki Deaconess Institute. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire. The majority (56%) of clients were between 15 and 24 years, educated at elementary school level (75%), and unemployed (57%). Opiates (30%) were the primary drugs of abuse. The primary drugs were mostly injected (45%) and were abused daily during the past month (44%). Cannabis was the most common secondary drug of abuse (34%). The secondary drugs were predominantly smoked (39%) or taken orally (38%) and were abused once per week or less frequently during the past month (33%). Age at initiation of illicit drug abuse ranged from 5 to 49 years. Polydrug abuse was common, with a mean consumption of 3.5 concurrent polydrug use, which were combined from 3 or more drug classes. The prevalence of lifetime/ever intravenous drug abuse was 64% and past month intravenous drug abuse was 64%, respectively, and 13% reported sharing injecting equipment during the past month. Early initiation, polydrug abuse, and risky consumption of illicit drugs were major areas of concern among the study population. Injecting drug use could place considerable burden on health services in view of complications and transmission of infectious diseases.
Buprenorphine abuse is becoming increasingly common worldwide. However, large-scale long-term studies of buprenorphine abuse are lacking. The objective of this study was to examine the trend in characteristics of clients seeking treatment for buprenorphine abuse and compare them to those seeking treatment for heroin and amphetamine abuse.
A 12-year descriptive study was conducted at the Helsinki Deaconess Institute (HDI), a public utility foundation responsible for providing treatment for substance abuse in the greater Helsinki area. All clients seeking treatment between 31 January 1997 and 31 August 2008 received a structured clinical interview concerning demographic characteristics and abuse patterns. Characteristics of clients who reported that their primary drug of abuse was buprenorphine (n=780) were compared to those whose primary drug of abuse was either heroin (n=598) or amphetamine (n=1249).
The annual proportion of buprenorphine clients increased from 3.0% in 1998 to 38.4% in 2008. Daily abuse (73.8%) and intravenous administration (80.6%) were common among buprenorphine clients. Concurrent abuse of prescription medications (p
The objective of this study was to investigate the national pattern of strong opioid use among community-dwelling persons with and without Alzheimer's disease (AD) in Finland. All persons (n=28,093) with a diagnosis of AD in 2005 were identified by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (SII). For each person with AD, the SII identified a comparison person individually matched in terms of age (?1year), sex, and region of residence. Records of all reimbursed drug purchases in 2005 were extracted from the Finnish National Prescription Register. Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for reimbursed opioid use. The age of the persons with and without AD ranged from 42 to 101 (mean 80.0) years, with men comprising 32.2% (n=9048) of persons. The annual prevalence of reimbursed opioid use was 3.0% (n=273) and 3.8% (n=727) among men and women with AD, respectively. The use of all reimbursed opioids was lower among persons with AD compared with those without AD (adjusted OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.84). The use of strong opioids (adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.51) and fentanyl (adjusted OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.83) was higher among persons with AD. Our study did not assess the stage or severity of AD, nor the opioid doses prescribed. However, the results highlight the challenges associated with diagnosing and treating pain in this population, and the importance of balancing the risk of adverse drug reactions against the ease of transdermal administration. Use of opioid analgesics was lower among 28,089 persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared with individually matched comparison persons without AD. However, use of strong opioids and transdermal fentanyl was more prevalent among persons with AD.