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Gender and racial/ethnic differences in addiction severity, HIV risk, and quality of life among adults in opioid detoxification: results from the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network

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      Detoxification often serves as an initial contact for treatment and represents an opportunity for engaging patients in aftercare to prevent relapse. However, there is limited information concerning clinical profiles of individuals seeking detoxification, and the opportunity to engage patients in detoxification for aftercare often is missed. This study examined clinical profiles of a geographically diverse sample of opioid-dependent adults in detoxification to discern the treatment needs of a growing number of women and whites with opioid addiction and to inform interventions aimed at improving use of aftercare or rehabilitation.


      The sample included 343 opioid-dependent patients enrolled in two national multisite studies of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN001–002). Patients were recruited from 12 addiction treatment programs across the nation. Gender and racial/ethnic differences in addiction severity, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk, and quality of life were examined.


      Women and whites were more likely than men and African Americans to have greater psychiatric and family/social relationship problems and report poorer health-related quality of life and functioning. Whites and Hispanics exhibited higher levels of total HIV risk scores and risky injection drug use scores than African Americans, and Hispanics showed a higher level of unprotected sexual behaviors than whites. African Americans were more likely than whites to use heroin and cocaine and to have more severe alcohol and employment problems.


      Women and whites show more psychopathology than men and African Americans. These results highlight the need to monitor an increased trend of opioid addiction among women and whites and to develop effective combined psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments to meet the diverse needs of the expanding opioid-abusing population. Elevated levels of HIV risk behaviors among Hispanics and whites also warrant more research to delineate mechanisms and to reduce their risky behaviors.

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          The use of behavioural self-reports of drug users is widespread among studies of illicit drug use. Despite widespread use, concerns about the accuracy of these reports continue to be raised. The current paper critically reviews the literature on the reliability and validity of self-reported drug use, criminality and HIV risk-taking among injecting drug users. The literature shows respectable reliability and validity of self-reported behaviours when compared to biomarkers, criminal records and collateral interviews. It concludes that the self-reports of drug users are sufficiently reliable and valid to provide descriptions of drug use, drug-related problems and the natural history of drug use.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA
            [2 ]Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
            [3 ]David Geffen School of Medicine, NPI/Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
            [4 ]Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA
            Author notes
            Correspondence: Li-Tzy Wu, Sc.D, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3419, Durham, NC 27710, USA, Tel +1 919 668 6067, Fax +1 919 668 5418, Email litzy.wu@
            Subst Abuse Rehabil
            Subst Abuse Rehabil
            Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation
            Dove Medical Press
            03 December 2010
            : 1
            : 13-22
            21709734 3122483 10.2147/SAR.S15151 sar-1-013
            © 2010 Wu et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd

            This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Original Research


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