Injury is Prevalent Among Alcohol and Drug-dependent Persons Seeking Detoxification

Contact: Gina M. Digravio, 617-638-8491 | gina.digravio@bmc.org

Boston, MA — Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have shown that injury is a serious problem for a substantial portion of patients undergoing detoxification, particularly those with alcohol dependence. The study appears in the February 2002 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and examines injury prevalence, and the impact of alcohol use on injury, among alcohol and drug-dependent persons seeking detoxification.

“Recent serious injury among patients entering inpatient detoxification for alcohol and other drug dependence is a common occurrence,” said senior author, Jeffrey Samet, MD, an associate professor of medicine and public health at BUSM. “Yet few studies have addressed this issue, particularly the role of alcohol use.”

Researchers recruited 470 patients (360 males, 110 females) from a Boston detoxification unit for this study. Participants were divided into three groups: those considered alcohol dependent; those considered alcohol & drug dependent; and those considered drug dependent. Reported drug choices were cocaine, heroin or other (mainly sedatives and marijuana). Participants were interviewed at baseline (during detoxification), and then at six months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months following detoxification. Self-reported episodes of injury were defined as: a gunshot wound, a stab wound, accidents or falls requiring medical attention, fractures or dislocation of bones or joints, an injury from a road traffic accident such as a car or motorcycle, or a head injury.

Overall, 24 percent of the 470 subjects reported at least one instance of serious injury during the six-month period prior to detoxification. Injury during the previous six-month period was highest among the 63 percent of participants who reported alcohol as their drug of choice.