Overdoses (ODs) are among the leading causes of death in youth with substance use disorders (SUDs). Our aim was to identify the prevalence of OD and characteristics associated with a history of OD in youth presenting for SUD outpatient care.
A systematic retrospective medical record review was conducted of consecutive psychiatric and SUD evaluations for patients aged 16 to 26 years with DSM-IV-TR criteria SUD at entry into an outpatient SUD treatment program for youth between January 2012 and June 2013. Unintentional OD was defined as substance use without intention of self-harm that was associated with a significant impairment in level of consciousness. Intentional OD was defined as ingestion of a substance that was reported as a suicide attempt. T tests, Pearson χ² tests, and Fisher exact tests were performed to evaluate characteristics associated with a history of OD.
We examined the medical records of 200 patients (157 males and 43 females) with a mean ± SD age of 20.2 ± 2.8 years. At intake, 58 patients (29%) had a history of OD, and 62% of those patients had a history of unintentional OD only (n = 36). Youth with ≥ 2 SUDs were 3 times more likely to have a history of OD compared to youth with 1 SUD (all P < .05). Compared to those without a history of OD, those with an OD were more likely to be female and have lifetime histories of alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine, anxiety, depressive, and/or eating disorders (all P < .05).
High rates of OD exist in treatment-seeking youth with SUD. OD was associated with more SUDs and psychiatric comorbidity.