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Journal Article


Rönkä S, Karjalainen K, Vuori E, Makela P. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2014; 34(1): 82-89.


Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


(Copyright © 2014, John Wiley and Sons)






INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Psychoactive prescription drug (PPD) abuse-related overdose deaths have increased in many countries in recent decades. We aimed to investigate the role of personally prescribed psychoactive drugs in abuse-related overdose mortality and explore any associations with level of social disadvantage. DESIGN AND METHODS: This register linkage study included all 243 people who had died of abuse-related drug-induced poisoning in Finland in 2000 and 2008. Data on registered purchases of psychoactive drugs within one and three years of death were linked to data on the psychoactive drug/s contributing to death in each case. Social disadvantage was measured by receipt of income support, long-term unemployment and disability pension.

RESULTS: Thirty-six percent of those abusers who had died of a drug overdose had purchased a similarly acting drug within three years of death. In all overdoses, the proportion increased from 20% in 2000 to 49% in 2008 (P < 0.001). A similar increase was seen in purchases within one year of death; from one-tenth in 2000 to one-third of all cases in 2008 (P < 0.001). The majority (83%) of the deceased had received income support, while only 13-14% were long-term unemployed or on disability pension. Disability pension recipients had significantly more prescribed psychoactive drug purchases than non-recipients (P < 0.001 for three and one years within death).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Personally prescribed PPDs pose a potential threat to people who abuse drugs. Health-care services should invest greater effort in identifying people who abuse drugs and in monitoring their drug prescriptions. [Rönkä S, Karjalainen K, Vuori E, Mäkelä P. Personally prescribed psychoactive drugs in overdose deaths among drug abusers: A retrospective register study. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014].

Language: en


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