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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002 Feb;26(2):212-7.

Injury among detoxification patients: alcohol users' greater risk.

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Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University Schools of Medicine, Massachusetts, USA.



Little information exists about serious injury in alcohol or drug abusers who seek detoxification. This study examined injury prevalence, and the impact of alcohol use on injury, among alcohol- and drug-dependent persons.


We enrolled patients at a detoxification unit into a prospective cohort study and performed follow-up interviews to determine the prevalence of injury. Baseline and follow-up (6, 12, 18, and 24 month) data were examined separately by using multivariate logistic regression to determine factors associated with self-reported episodes of serious injury. The main independent variable was self-reported first and second substances of choice at admission: alcohol only, drug only, or both.


Overall, 24% of the 470 subjects reported at least one instance of serious injury over the 6-month period before detoxification. Similarly, approximately 20% of subjects had serious injury during each 6-month follow-up period. Injury in the past 6 months was highest among the 63% of subjects who reported alcohol as a drug of choice (28-29% vs. 16% for drug only), even after we controlled for potential confounders. Analysis of 2-year follow-up data revealed a similar association, after we controlled for baseline injury and alcohol consumption.


Injury is a serious problem for a substantial proportion of patients who undergo detoxification, particularly those with alcohol dependence. This marked risk for serious injury persisted for 24 months after detoxification. Patients at detoxification, particularly those with alcohol problems, represent a high-risk population for injury that may benefit from interventions to reduce these preventable complications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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