Substance dependence. A hospital based survey

Saudi Med J. 2000 Jan;21(1):51-7.


Objective: To collect basic data on multiple and diverse issues such as drugs of dependence, smoking, initiation age, injection related harm, nutritional status, trauma, accidents, abnormal laboratory parameters and co-morbid conditions.

Method: Seven hundred and ninety nine subjects from a voluntary detoxification unit were studied. Four hundred and ninety seven charts from June 1995 to December 1995 were reviewed retrospectively. For the other 302 subjects admitted between September 1996 to December 1996, information regarding drug use, smoking, trauma, accidents and co-morbid conditions was recorded during the admission interview while the remaining data was later obtained from the charts.

Results: Sixty eight percent were under 35. Ninety seven percent were smokers and 55% started smoking before the age of 15. Sixty four percent initiated drugs before the age of 25 while 34% had been on drugs for less than 5 years. Eighty seven percent were using heroin or alcohol. Fourteen percent were dependent on more than one drug. Among heroin users 91% were injecting, 21% had injection related complications, 69% had Hepatitis C Virus and 0.40% died. Forty four percent had at least one current medical disorder, 59% had one abnormal laboratory parameter and 21% below normal Body Mass Index. Nine percent had mental disorders and 1% presented with overdose. Twenty nine percent reported unintentional injuries and 12% reported of road traffic accidents. Seventeen point five percent had family history of drug use, 4.5% had mental disorders and 87% physical disorders.

Conclusion: More accurate and reliable data is required. Current services need to be improved. Preventative measures should focus on early detection and intervention and a central body for information collection should be established.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy