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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

Authors Li-Tzy Wu, Walter Ling, Bruce Burchett, et al

Published 3 December 2010 Volume 2010:1 Pages 13—22


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Li-Tzy Wu1,2, Walter Ling3, Bruce Burchett1, Dan G Blazer1,2, Jack Shostak2, George E Woody4
1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, 2Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA; 3David Geffen School of Medicine, NPI/Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 4Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Purpose: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.

Keywords: buprenorphine, clinical trials network, gender differences, heath disparity, HIV risk behavior, methadone, opioid dependence, rehabilitation

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