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Addictive behaviors

Patterns and correlates of alcohol use amongst heroin users: 11-year follow-up of the Australian Treatment Outcome Study cohort.


PMID 26111657

Abstract

The study aimed to determine long-term alcohol use patterns and correlates amongst heroin users. Longitudinal cohort. 11-year post-baseline follow-up of the Australian Treatment Outcome Study cohort. At 11-year follow-up, 431 (70%) participants were interviewed. Alcohol was used in the preceding month by 56%, with 27% reporting daily use and 11% heavy daily drinking. Alcohol use patterns showed remarkable consistency across waves, with the proportion who drank in the preceding month ranging between 49 and 56%, with no significant trend across time. Daily drinking ranged between 20 and 27%, and heavy daily drinking between 7 and 12%. Both declined slightly from baseline to 3-year follow-up, but by 11 years were at levels similar to baseline. Compared to female referents, males were more likely to drink (OR 1.6, CI 1.3-2.1, p < .05), to drink daily (OR 1.8, CI 1.4-2.4, p < .05) and to drink heavily (OR 1.7, 1.1-2.5, p < .05). Compared to those not in enrolled in a drug treatment programme, those enrolled were significantly less likely to drink (OR 0.7, CI 0.5-0.8, p < .05) and to drink daily (OR 0.6, 0.5-0.8, p < .05). Compared to those who did not drink heavily, heavy drinking was associated with a higher likelihood of recent overdose (OR 1.6, CI 1.0-2.4, p < .05), of criminality (OR 1.9, 1.3-2.7, p < .001), and with lower SF12 physical (mean difference -3.0, CI -4.7 to -1.4, p < .001) and mental (-2.4, CI -4.3 to -0.5, p < .001) health scores. There were consistently high levels of both abstinence and regular drinking, with drinking patterns staying relatively stable across the decade. From the clinical perspective, the high rates of heavy drinking are of particular relevance, given the observed associations with a poorer clinical profile.

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