2. Hospitalization risk profile of opioids users
Drug use associated health problems are a complex phenomenon changing over time. Some studies regarding drug-related diseases were conducted, mainly based on Emergency Rooms Data; other investigations regarded diseases related only to injecting drug use (i.e. HIV, B and C Hepatitis). This study is based on an exhaustive nationwide source on hospitalizations in Italy: the National Hospital Discharge Database (NHDB). The hospitalization risk profile of opioids user was studied, in terms of hospitalization rates and observed comorbidities; age and gender differences were considered.
The NHDB collects data regarding all patients discharged from any Italian hospital, recording for each patient demographic and clinical data. Cases analysed in the study: all the patients diagnosed with conditions related to opioid use during the study period 2005-2019. To perform a more detailed analysis, opioids users using also other substances ('poly-users') were studied too.
Main findings: i) Pathologies with the highest risk of hospitalization among opioid users: infectious diseases (i.e. infectious intestinal diseases, HIV, viral diseases with rash, chlamydia and other viral pathologies). ii) Risks are greater in women than in men. iii) In women, excesses of risk were also observed for Ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular and respiratory diseases (this excess is also present in men), diseases of the digestive and of the urinary system.
This nationwide study provides relevant information in terms of public health, giving indications to public services about the burden of diseases to keep under observation in the opioid users.