Change in alcohol and other drug use during five years of continuous opioid substitution treatment

Brian Eastwood, John Strang, John Marsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: English national prospective, observational cohort study of patients continuously enrolled for five years in opioid substitution treatment (OST) with oral methadone and sublingual buprenorphine. This is a secondary outcome analysis of change in use of alcohol and other drug use (AOD) following identification of heroin use trajectories during OST. Methods: All adults admitted to community OST in 2008/09 and enrolled to 2013/14 (n = 7717). Data from 11 sequential, six-monthly clinical reviews were used to identify heroin and AOD use trajectories by multi-level Latent Class Growth Analysis. OST outcome in the sixth and seventh year was ‘successful completion and no re-presentation’ (SCNR) to structured treatment and was assessed using multi-level logistic regression. Results: With ‘rapid decreasing’ heroin use trajectory as referent, ‘continued high-level’ heroin use predicted ‘continued high-level’ crack cocaine use (relative risk ratio [RRR] 58.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 34.2–100.5),‘continued high-level’ alcohol use (RRR 1.2; 95% CI 1.0–1.5), ‘increasing’ unspecified drug use (RRR 1.7; 95% CI 1.4–2.1) and less ‘high and increasing’ cannabis use (RRR 0.5; 95% CI 0.4–0.6). ‘Increasing’ crack use was negatively associated with SCNR outcome for the ‘decreasing then increasing’ and ‘gradual decreasing’ heroin use groups (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–0.9 and AOR 0.2; 95% CI 0.1–0.7, respectively). Conclusions: Continued high-level heroin use non-response during long-term OST is associated with high-level crack cocaine and alcohol use, increasing unspecified drug use, but less high and increasing cannabis use. Increasing use of crack cocaine is negatively associated with the likelihood that long-term OST is completed successfully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-446
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Long-term
  • Opioid substitution treatment
  • Trajectory


Dive into the research topics of 'Change in alcohol and other drug use during five years of continuous opioid substitution treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this