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Mortality Up for Opioid Addicts Not Treated in Addiction Clinics

Those treated in primary care, hospitals twice as likely to die as those treated in addiction centers

patient and doctor

MONDAY, April 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Opioid addicts who get their medical care in settings such as primary care offices and hospitals, rather than addiction centers, are twice as likely to die as opioid addicts treated in addiction clinics, according to a study published online April 20 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

University of California, Los Angeles, researchers studied data from 2,576 adults who were diagnosed with opioid use disorder between 2006 and 2014 and who received health care at a major university hospital. Not all were receiving treatment for their opioid use disorder. By the end of the period, 465 (18.1 percent) of the patients had died.

Based on how long each person was in the study -- four years on average -- the researchers estimated that the mortality rate was more than twice that of opioid addicts treated in addiction clinics. The mortality rate among study participants was more than 10 times that of people in the general population of the same age and sex. The investigators also found black or uninsured patients were more likely to die.

"Patients with opioid use disorder in a general health care system demonstrated alarmingly high morbidity and mortality, which challenges health care systems to find innovative ways to identify and treat patients with substance use disorder," the authors write.

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