Evaluating the impact of Laws Regulating Illicit Drugs on Health and Society

The Hospitalization Risk Profile of Opioids Users

Author(s): Valerio Manno, Alice Maraschini, Susanna Conti and Giada Minelli * .

Pp: 63-75 (13)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815079241123010008

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Drug use-associated health problems are a complex phenomenon changing over time. Published studies regarding drug-related diseases are mainly based on emergency rooms data; moreover, most of these studies focus only on diseases related to injecting drug use (i.e. HIV, B and C Hepatitis).

This chapter presents a study based on an exhaustive nationwide source on hospitalizations in Italy: the National Hospital Discharge Database (NHDB). The hospitalization risk profile of opioids user was studied, in terms of hospitalization rates and observed comorbidities; age and gender differences were taken into account.

The NHDB collects data regarding all patients discharged from any Italian hospital, recording their demographic and clinical data. Cases analysed in the study: all the patients diagnosed with conditions related to opioid use during the study period 2005- 2019.

To perform a more detailed analysis, opioids users also using other substances “polyusers” were studied too.

Main findings: i) Pathologies with the highest risk of hospitalization among opioid users: infectious diseases (i.e. infectious intestinal diseases, HIV, viral diseases with rash, chlamydia and other viral pathologies). ii) Risks are greater in women than in men. iii) In women, excesses of risk were also observed for Ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular and respiratory diseases (this excess is also present in men), and diseases of the digestive and urinary system.

This nationwide study provides relevant information in terms of public health, giving indications to public services about the burden of diseases to keep under observation the opioid users.

Keywords: Age, Comorbidities, Gender, Hospitalization, Infectious diseases, Opioid users, Poly-users, Risk profile, Standardized hospitalization rates, Time trends.

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