Alcohol and drug use among trauma patients with injuries of violence– results from the IDART study
Background: Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults worldwide, and can also result in physical injuries, emotional and behavioural problems. Substance use, especially alcohol, is often associated with interpersonal violent events, as these substances can modify behaviour by reducing self-control and the ability to process information. Substance use is common among both perpetrators and victims. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of substance use among Norwegian trauma patients admitted with injuries of violence.
Methods: Patients ≥ 16 years of age activating a trauma team upon admission to 35 Norwegian hospitals between March 2019 and February 2020 were included in the study. Data on injury date, injury type, and psychoactive medications given in trauma treatment was recorded. Leftover blood samples were analysed for alcohol, psychoactive medicinal drugs and illegal drugs.
Results: A total of 344 patients admitted with violent injuries were included in the study. The majority of these patients were men between 16 and 44 years. Results show that 80% of the patients tested positive for one or more psychoactive substances. Alcohol was the most commonly detected substance (52%) with mean blood alcohol concentration of 1.7 g/L among those testing positive, followed by illegal drugs (46%) and psychoactive medicinal drugs (36%). Cannabis and amphetamine were the most commonly detected illegal drugs, whereas diazepam and clonazepam were the most commonly detected medicinal drugs. Concomitant polydrug use (≥2 substances) was detected in 48% of the patients.
Conclusion: Substance use is highly prevalent among Norwegian trauma patients admitted with violent injuries. Both traditional substance use prevention approaches and environmental prevention aimed at helping people develop the social skill set and competence necessary to avoid substance use are relevant measures.
Disclosure of interest: The IDART study was supported by the Directorate of Health, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, and the Ministry of Transportation.