Social determinants, self-rated health and prescription drug use associated with simultaneous polydrug use – A population-based study
Background: Population-based studies concerning polydrug use focus more often on concurrent than simultaneous polydrug use (SPU), partly due to the lack of suitable data. However, more information on this phenomenon is needed to prevent health or other harm (such as increased risk of death) caused by the simultaneous use of different substances. This study aims to examine the associations of social determinants, self-rated health, and prescription drug use with SPU among the general population.
Methods: Population-based (aged 15–69) Drug Survey conducted in Finland in 2018 was used as a data, with the response rate of 46%. Social determinants, self-rated health as well as past-year prescriptions for tranquillizers, opioids and antidepressants were used as explanatory variables. Simultaneous use of at least two substances (alcohol/illicit drugs/prescription drugs influencing the central nervous system) during the last year served as an outcome. Independent associations between the explanatory variables and the outcome were explored by using logistic regression.
Results: Five percent of Finns reported past-year SPU. SPU was associated with male gender, younger age, living alone, unemployment, and urban residence, whereas there was no statistically significant difference in education between those reporting past-year SPU and the other Finnish population. SPU was also associated with poor self-rated health, and those reporting past-year SPU were more likely to be prescribed for tranquillizers, opioids, or antidepressants during the last year compared with the other Finnish population.
Conclusions: As expected, social determinants associated with SPU resembled those generally known to be associated with substance use, and especially with illicit drug use. Poor self-rated health and legitimate prescriptions for different drugs indicate health problems among those reporting SPU which warrants further attention. These preliminary results and conclusions will be discussed further.