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Nearly half of deaths among ex-prisoners related to substance abuse


 

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Substance use disorders are associated with a substantially increased rate of mortality among people released from prison, compared with the general population, according to a longitudinal cohort study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

A team of investigators found that among a group of ex-prisoners, 44% of the deaths after release were potentially tied to substance use disorders, even after adjustment for sociodemographic, criminological, and familial factors.

The researchers examined records of 47,326 individuals released from prison in Sweden between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2009. The average follow-up stood at 5 years. Their analysis showed that substance use disorders significantly increased the rate of all-cause mortality, with an estimated 42% of deaths in men and 70% of deaths in women related to alcohol use (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.62; 95% confidence interval, 1.48-1.77) and drug use (adjusted HR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.53-1.83.)

The researchers, led by Zheng Chang, Ph.D., of the department of psychiatry at the University of Oxford (England), also found “little evidence” that psychiatric disorders independently increased postrelease mortality. The prevalence of substance abuse and of severe psychiatric disorders among the ex-prisoner population were similar to those found in the United Kingdom, the United States, and in other high-income countries, noted Dr. Chang, also of department of medical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and his associates.

Read the full article here: The Lancet Psychiatry 2015 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00088-7).

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