Carlos Roncero 1 , 2 , 3 , F Javier Álvarez , 4 , Carmen Barral 1 , 3 , Susana Gómez-Baeza 1 , Begoña Gonzalvo 1 , Laia Rodríguez-Cintas 1 , M Teresa Brugal 5 , 6 , 7 , Carlos Jacas 2 , 3 , Anna Romaguera 1 , Miguel Casas 2 , 3
3 June 2013
Opioid dependent patients have legal problems, driving violations and accidents more frequently than the general population. We have hypothesized that those patients currently driving may have better legal outcomes than those who do not possess a valid driving license. With this aim we have analyzed the information gathered in the PROTEUS study regarding the legal and driving statuses and assessed the possible association between them. The PROTEUS study was an observational, cross-sectional, descriptive, multicenter nationwide representative study, conducted in Spanish healthcare centers for opioid dependent patients.
The driving and legal statuses of a population of opioid dependent patients ≥18 years and enrolled in Opioid Agonist Therapy treatment centers in Spain, were assessed using a short specific questionnaire and the EuropASI questionnaire to highlight distinct individual clinical needs. 621 patients were evaluable (84% men, 24.5% active workers). 321 patients (52%) drove on a regular basis. Nineteen percent of patients had some problem with the criminal justice system. There was a significant difference (p = 0.0433) in status, according to the criminal justice system, between patients who drove on a regular basis and those who did not, with a higher percentage of patients with non-pending charges among usual drivers.
Regular drivers showed fewer legal problems than non-regular drivers, with the exception of those related to driving (driving violations and drunk driving). Driving is a good prognostic factor for the social integration of the patients and policies should be implemented to enable these patients to drive safely under medical authorization. The legal description will be useful to assess treatment efficacy.