Publications & Reports

Exploring mortality among drug treatment clients: The relationship between treatment type and mortality.

Lloyd B, Zahnow R, Barratt MJ, Best D, Lubman DI, Ferris J


AIMS: Studies consistently identify substance treatment populations as more likely to die prematurely compared with age-matched general population, with mortality risk higher out-of-treatment than in-treatment. While opioid-using pharmacotherapy cohorts have been studied extensively, less evidence exists regarding effects of other treatment types, and clients in treatment for other drugs. This paper examines mortality during and following treatment across treatment modalities.

METHODS: A retrospective seven-year cohort was utilised to examine mortality during and in the two years following treatment among clients from Victoria, Australia, recorded on the Alcohol and Drug Information Service database by linking with National Death Index. 18,686 clients over a 12-month period were included. Crude (CMRs) and standardised mortality rates (SMRs) were analysed in terms of treatment modality, and time in or out of treatment.

RESULTS: Higher risk of premature death was associated with residential withdrawal as the last type of treatment engagement, while mortality following counselling was significantly lower than all other treatment types in the year post-treatment. Both CMRs and SMRs were significantly higher in-treatment than post-treatment.

CONCLUSION: Better understanding of factors contributing to elevated mortality risk for clients engaged in, and following treatment, is needed to ensure that treatment systems provide optimal outcomes during and after treatment.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Published: 01/11/2017
  • Volume: 82
  • Pagination: 22-28


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