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School and Job Failure are Risk Factors for Drug Overdose

Update Date: Oct 17, 2014 01:49 PM EDT
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Researchers identified two risk factors that can predict whether or not people will have a fatal overdose. The team from the University of Luxembourg reported that drug abusers who failed at school and at their jobs were more likely to die from a fatal overdose.

"Overdose victims are roughly twice as likely to have failed to finish secondary school successfully and one-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than problem drug users who are still alive," said lead researcher of the study, Alain Origer, Luxembourg's National Drug Coordinator, reported by Medical Xpress. "However, there was no difference in the type of work done by the parents of problem drug-users and overdose victims. One may speculate that socioeconomic disadvantages act on individual lives rather than being determined by up-bringing."

For this study, the researchers examined data on more than 1,300 people with a history of drug abuse, which included taking opioids, heroin and cocaine. The participants resided in the Grand Ducky of Luxembourg from 1994 to 2011. There were 272 fatal overdose cases and 1,056 comparable profiles on problem drug-users.

The team concluded that problem drug users with lower education levels who were also unemployed had the greatest risk of dying from a fatal overdose. The researchers believe that measures designed to help with education as well as employment could potentially prevent these deaths.

"Educational programs, professional training and occupational reintegration may contribute to reducing drug-related mortality," said Origer. "Incorporating these measures into harm reduction programs and developing risk-assessment tools could save lives."

The study, "Social and economic inequalities in fatal opioid and cocaine related overdoses in Luxembourg: A case-control study," was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

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