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J Urban Health. 2007 Mar;84(2):283-91.

Patterns of nonfatal heroin overdose over a 3-year period: findings from the Australian treatment outcome study.

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


To determine annual patterns and correlates of nonfatal heroin overdose across 3 years, data were analyzed on 387 heroin users recruited for the Australian Treatment Outcome Study (ATOS), interviewed at 12, 24, and 36 months. A heroin overdose across follow-up was reported by 18.6%, and naloxone had been administered to 11.9%. Annual rates of overdose declined between baseline and 12 months and then remained stable. Previous overdose experience was strongly related to subsequent overdose. Those with a history of overdose before ATOS were significantly more likely to overdose during the study period. In particular, there was a strong association between overdose experience in any 1 year and increased overdose risk in the subsequent year. This is the first study to examine long-term annual trends in nonfatal heroin overdose. While overdose rates declined after extensive treatment, substantial proportions continued to overdose in each year, and this was strongly associated with overdose history.

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