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Can J Psychiatry. 2005 Aug;50(9):512-8.

Comorbid depression among untreated illicit opiate users: results from a multisite Canadian study.

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Centre for Health Promotion Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton.



This study aimed to describe patterns of major depression (MDD) in a cohort of untreated illicit opiate users recruited from 5 Canadian urban centres, identify sociodemographic characteristics of opiate users that predict MDD, and determine whether opiate users suffering from depression exhibit different drug use patterns than do participants without depression.


Baseline data were collected from 679 untreated opiate users in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. Using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form for Major Depression, we assessed sociodemographics, drug use, health status, health service use, and depression. We examined depression rates across study sites; logistic regression analyses predicted MDD from demographic information and city. Chi-square analyses were used to compare injection drug use and cocaine or crack use among participants with and without depression.


Almost one-half (49.3%) of the sample met the cut-off score for MDD. Being female, white, and living outside Vancouver independently predicted MDD. Opiate users suffering from depression were more likely than users without depression to share injection equipment and paraphernalia and were also more likely to use cocaine (Ps < 0.05).


Comorbid depression is common among untreated opiate users across Canada; targeted interventions are needed for this population.

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