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Drug Users and Risk of Death

A new study shows injecting-drug users who are male and over age 34 are at the greatest risk of death. The research highlights the need to stress the importance of discontinuing drug-use among older drug users.//

Recognizing trends in the drug-using population can help better define different sectors to help them. A study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom focuses on which drug-users are at the greatest risk of death. Researchers looked at the drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2000 and 2001.

Results show 292 drug-related deaths in 2000 and 332 drug-related deaths in 2001. Researchers say, of the 332 people who died in 2001, 65 were female, 80 were younger than 25 years old and 112 were older than 34 years. Researchers then used published regional estimates to figure the expected drug-related deaths by region, sex and age group.

Researchers report the risk of drug-related death was lower among female injecting drug-users than male injecting drug-users. It was also found that injecting drug-users over the age of 34 were between two- and six-times more likely to die of drug-related causes than younger drug users.

Researchers say the public health message of stopping injection drug-use should stand, but should be stressed even greater to older injecting drug-users. Researchers also say particular attention should be paid to modifiable risk factors such as incarceration, living or injecting alone and risk perception. They point out, “Life years lost from drug-related deaths are converging on the number of lost years from road traffic accidents -- as the former goes up, the latter is coming down.”


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