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Driving and legal status of Spanish opioid-dependent patients

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      Abstract

      Background

      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.

      Findings

      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.

      Conclusions

      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.

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      Most cited references 14

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      The Fifth Edition of the Addiction Severity Index.

      The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) is 12 years old and has been revised to include a new section on family history of alcohol, drug, and psychiatric problems. New items were added in existing sections to assess route of drug administration; additional illegal activities; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; quality of the recovery environment; and history of close personal relationships. No changes were made in the composite scoring to maintain comparability with previous editions. This article discusses the clinical and research uses of the ASI over the past 12 years, emphasizing some special circumstances that affect its administration. The article then describes the rationale for and description of the changes made in the ASI. The final section provides "normative data" on the composite scores and severity ratings for samples of opiate, alcohol, and cocaine abusers as well as drug abusing inmates, pregnant women, homeless men, and psychiatrically ill substance abusers.
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        Impaired decision-making in opiate-dependent subjects: effect of pharmacological therapies.

        Cognitive dysfunction is a major feature of drug addiction. In the present paper, we compared the decision-making ability using the Iowa gambling task of methadone- and buprenorphine-maintained individuals to non opiate-dependent drug-free controls. Buprenorphine-maintained individuals performed better than methadone-maintained individuals, and not differently than non opiate-dependent controls. In addition, methadone-maintained individuals had more perseverative errors on the Wisconsin card sorting task (WCST) as compared with non opiate-dependent drug-free controls whereas buprenorphine-maintained individuals had intermediate scores. Scores on Weschler adult intelligence scale (WAIS-R) were similar for methadone- and buprenorphine-maintained individuals whereas drug-free controls had significantly higher scores. In addition, both opiate-dependent groups performed more poorly than drug-free controls on the Benton visual retention test (BVRT). The results suggest that buprenorphine in contrast to methadone improves decision-making, and thus may be more effective in rehabilitation programs of opiate-dependent subjects and this improvement may be related to its distinct pharmacological action as a k antagonist.
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          Methadone vs. buprenorphine/naloxone during early opioid substitution treatment: a naturalistic comparison of cognitive performance relative to healthy controls

          Background Both methadone- and buprenorphine-treated opioid-dependent patients frequently show cognitive deficits in attention, working memory, and verbal memory. However, no study has compared these patient groups with each other during early opioid substitution treatment (OST). Therefore, we investigated attention, working memory, and verbal memory of opioid-dependent patients within six weeks after the introduction of OST in a naturalistic setting and compared to those of healthy controls. Methods The sample included 16 methadone-, 17 buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients, and 17 healthy controls matched for sex and age. In both groups buprenorphine was the main opioid of abuse during the recent month. Benzodiazepine codependence, recent use, and comedication were also common in both patient groups. Analysis of variance was used to study the overall group effect in each cognitive test. Pair-wise group comparisons were made, when appropriate Results Methadone-treated patients, as a group, had significantly slower simple reaction time (RT) compared to buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients. In Go/NoGo RT methadone patients were significantly slower than controls. Both patient groups were significantly debilitated compared to controls in working memory and verbal list learning. Only methadone patients were inferior to controls in story recall. In simple RT and delayed story recall buprenorphine/naloxone patients with current benzodiazepine medication (n = 13) were superior to methadone patients with current benzodiazepine medication (n = 13). When methadone patients were divided into two groups according to their mean dose, the patient group with a low dose (mean 40 mg, n = 8) showed significantly faster simple RT than the high dose group (mean 67 mg, n = 8). Conclusion Deficits in attention may only be present in methadone-treated early phase OST patients and may be dose-dependent. Working memory deficit is common in both patient groups. Verbal memory deficit may be more pronounced in methadone-treated patients than in buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients. In sum, to preserve cognitive function in early OST, the use of buprenorphine/naloxone may be more preferable to methadone use of, at least if buprenorphine has been recently abused and when benzodiazepine comedication is used. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate if the better performance of buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients is a relatively permanent effect or reflects "only" transient opioid switching effect.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Psychiatry, Outpatient Drug Clinic, Vall d’Hebron University Hospital-Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), 08035, Barcelona, Spain
            [2 ]Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, 08042, Barcelona, Spain
            [3 ]Department of Psychiatry, Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, CIBERSAM, 08035, Barcelona, Spain
            [4 ]Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Centre for Alcohol and Drugs Studies, University of Valladolid, Valladolid 47005, Spain
            [5 ]Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), 08023, Barcelona, Spain
            [6 ]Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica (IIB Sant Pau), 08025, Barcelona, Spain
            [7 ]CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
            Author notes
            on behalf of the PROTEUS study investigators
            Contributors
            Journal
            Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy
            Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy
            Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
            BioMed Central
            1747-597X
            2013
            3 June 2013
            : 8
            : 19
            23731546 3679965 1747-597X-8-19 10.1186/1747-597X-8-19
            Copyright © 2013 Roncero et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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