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Opiate substitute treatment is associated with increased overall survival among injecting drug users

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What is the rate of long-term cessation of intravenous drug and survival in injecting drug users, and is it influenced by opiate substitution treatment and other factors?


794 people (average age 26.7 years) with a history of injecting drug use presenting between 1980 and 2007. Follow-up data could be obtained for 655 (82%) of these individuals, and they contributed 10 390 person-years of data.


Single primary care facility, Edinburgh, UK; 1980–2007.

Prognostic factors

Taking intravenous drugs and having opiate substitute treatment. Gender, age at first injection, year of first injection (before or after 1986), HIV status, periods in prison, history of overdose requiring treatment at an accident and emergency department, self-harm, problem drinking and referrals for serious mental health issues were included as covariates in the analyses. Data were obtained from primary care records and from a questionnaire on lifetime injecting drug use and current health status.


Long-term cessation of intravenous drug use and mortality. Long-term cessation was defined as at least 5 consecutive years without injecting before the last …

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  • Source of funding The Chief Scientist Office for Scotland.


  • Competing interests None.

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