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Home > Rising incidence of ageing opioid users within the EU wide treatment demand indicator; The Irish opioid epidemic from 1996 to 2014.

Carew, Anne Marie and Comiskey, Catherine (2018) Rising incidence of ageing opioid users within the EU wide treatment demand indicator; The Irish opioid epidemic from 1996 to 2014. Drug and Alcohol Dependence , 192 , pp. 329-337.


Literature identifies older people who use opioids as a neglected population. Little is known about temporal changes, or about treatment demand among this population.

The EU Treatment Demand Indicator (TDI) for Ireland (1996-2014) was analyzed for trends in new opioid treatment admissions, aging and drug using behaviors. A Joinpoint analysis was conducted.

 

Data from 18,692 individuals entering treatment for the first time showed that while the trend of age-adjusted incidence declined between 1996 and 2014, incidence among older age groups increased, with a rising incidence not previously observed among those aged 50 years and older. Subgroups of early and late treatment entries, and early and late opioid onset were observed. The median age commencing opioid use increased by three years from 18 to 21 years (U = 326141.5, p < 0.001). The median age entering treatment increased by 11 years (from age 20 to age 31) (U = 145465.5, p < 0.001). The median opioid-using duration prior to treatment increased by 5 years (from 2 to 7 years) (U = 170807.5, p < 0.001). Half of the individuals started injecting within one year of first using opioids. The median time between first injecting and commencing treatment increased by 6 years for men and 2 years for women.

 

The study utilizes European TDI data and finds that those entering treatment in Ireland is older, are injecting longer and are taking longer to enter treatment. These findings highlight how TDI data can be used to identify hidden groups at risk of chronic harm which may require prioritizing in policy and practice.

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