Rutgers Professor Stephen Crystal, who co-authored a pioneering study showing that U.S. survivors of opioid overdoses are highly likely to die within a year from drug use–related causes, suicide and wide-ranging diseases, is available for interviews. The study was published online in JAMA Psychiatry today.

Survivors of opioid overdoses were 24.2 times more likely to die overall than the general population. Their likelihood of dying was 132.1 times higher for drug use–associated diseases, 45.9 times higher for HIV, 41.1 times higher for chronic respiratory diseases, 30.9 times higher for viral hepatitis and 25.9 times higher for suicide, according to the study.

“These results show us that the impact of the opioid epidemic on the health of Americans is even more severe than is indicated by the widely publicized statistics on the growing number of deaths each year that are attributed by medical examiners directly to opioid overdose,” said Stephen Crystal, Board of Governors Professor of Health Services Research at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research and School of Social Work at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “The impact of the epidemic goes well beyond the opioid overdose statistics to a wide range of severe health problems that are associated with opioid dependence, including high rates of death from respiratory diseases, suicide and other causes. It is vital that we find better ways of addressing the multiple healthcare needs of individuals at high risk, especially for individuals who have survived an overdose. We need to reach out energetically to these individuals to engage them in medically assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, as well as helping them with their related healthcare needs.”

“The magnitude of this loss of life and variety of medical diseases that contribute to these excess deaths underscores the medical frailty of these patients and emphasizes the importance of coordinating addiction treatment, general medical services and mental health care after opioid overdose,” the study says.

Here’s a link to the study:

Professor Crystal is available at [email protected] and 732-397-3963.


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Journal Link: JAMA Psychiatry