Overdose Risk Factors in Youth with Substance Use Disorders

Posted on May 12, 2018

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators conducted a retrospective analysis, and conducted comprehensive assessments including details of both substance use and psychiatric histories of participants.

Of the 200 patients whose data were collected, 58 had a history of at least one overdose -- defined as substance use associated with significant impairment in the level of consciousness or an ingestion of any substance with the intent of self-harm that was reported as a suicide attempt. Patients with two or more substance use disorders were more than three times as likely to have a history of overdose, compared to patients with a single substance use disorder.

The best substance-associated predictors of an overdose were alcohol use disorder, cocaine use disorder and amphetamine use disorder; psychiatric conditions associated with overdose history were eating disorders, depression and anxiety disorders. Patients with a history of intentional overdose were more likely than those with unintentional overdose to have a history of self-harming behavior and inpatient psychiatric treatment.

Since substance use patterns are known to differ between youth and adults, and since brain regions important to decision making do not fully mature until the 20s, it is important to investigate the risk factors present for adolescents, and possibly take into account the differences in risk factors among age groups.


Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues

Source material from Science Daily


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