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20.03.2023 | Publication

Differences between imprisoned and other patients in opioid substitution treatment (OST)

Julkaisun nimi:

Differences between imprisoned and other patients in opioid substitution treatment (OST)


Kaskela, T. Pitkänen, T.


To help further the development of opioid substitution treatment (OST), it is important to research the different subgroups of patients. The aim of this paper is to compare the OST patients who had been imprisoned (excluding remand and default prisoners) or done community service to the other OST patients.







Julkaisun tiedot:

Published in the conference report of the 53rd Research Seminar of The Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology, pp. 213-226.

Lyhyt kuvaus:

Methadone and buprenorphine are used in opioid substitution treatment (OST) to relieve the withdrawal symptoms caused by opioid dependence. OST is undertaken with the aim of enabling patients to begin the process of recovery and facilitating social integration. Opioid substitution treatment helps to reduce the negative effects of opioid addiction on patients’ health and social well-being.

The data analyzed in this study are part of a larger register study, called the Registrybased follow-up study on criminality, health and taxation of inpatients and outpatients entered into substance abuse treatment (RIPE). It is administered by the Research Unit of the Järvenpää Addiction Hospital (JAH). The OST patients under examination (n=718) began OST between 1997 and 2009. The mean age at which patients began treatment was 29 years. Overall, 73% of the participants were male. Records of all periods of incarceration between 1990 and 2010 as well as all hospitalizations between 1996 and 2009 were analyzed as part of this investigation; information found in recent criminal records, death reports, and income tax records from 2004 to 2008 were also used. The patients included in this study were divided to two groups depending whether or not they had been imprisoned (excluding remand and default prisoners).

OST patients who had been imprisoned were, on average, older and male. More members of this group had received inpatient treatment at JAH than the other OST patients. Additionally, recent criminal behavior was more prevalent among patients who had been imprisoned; however, a large majority (77%) of the other patients had also been sentenced for criminal activity between 2006 and 2010. Patients who had been imprisoned were more likely to be diagnosed with different substance use disorders. Additionally, these males were diagnosed more often for Hepatitis C than other males. Although most of the OST patients presented with multiple physical and mental health issues, these problems were more common among patients who had been imprisoned.

Keywords: opioid substitution treatment, buprenorphine, opioids, criminality, mental health, imprisonment, follow-up

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