Older and sicker: Changing mortality of drug users in treatment in the North West of England.

Research paper by Caryl C Beynon, Jim J McVeigh, Ayesha A Hurst, Adam A Marr

Indexed on: 23 Feb '10Published on: 23 Feb '10Published in: International Journal of Drug Policy


The study examines the age at which drug users die and ascertains whether there is a significant difference in the causes of death ('drug related' versus 'non-drug related') according to age.Details of people reported to the North West of England's National Drug Treatment Monitoring System as dying (years 2003/2004-2007/2008) were matched by the Office for National Statistics to death notifications to identify the cause and date of death. Spearman's rank correlation was performed on median age at death by year. Mantel-Haenszel statistics tested the association between age and type of death, adjusted for year.Causes of death were ascertained for 504 people. Median age at death increased significantly from 36.46 in 2003/2004 to 41.38 in 2007/2008. The odds of a person aged 40 and over dying from a non-drug related death were 3.27 the odds of a person aged less than 40 dying from a non-drug related death.Current focus on drug related deaths detracts attention from other causes; in particular, the types of death which disproportionately affect older drug users. Ongoing debates about reintegration into society and employment presuppose that drug users are of working age and are healthy enough to work.