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Criminal Behavior in Opioid-Dependent Patients Before and During Maintenance Therapy: 6-year Follow-Up of a Nationally Representative Cohort Sample

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 57 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2012 Pages: 1524-1530
Michael Soyka, M.D.; Anna Trader, Ph.D.; Jens Klotsche, Ph.D.; Annina Haberthur, Ph.D.; Gerhard Buhringer, Ph.D.; Jurgen Rehm, Ph.D.; Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2012
7 pages
This study addressed the long-term impact of opioid maintenance therapy on convictions and criminal behavior.
Lifetime prevalence of opioid dependence is about 0.4 percent in western countries. Opioid-dependent patients have high morbidity and mortality and a high risk of criminal behavior. Few studies have addressed the long-term impact of opioid maintenance therapy on convictions and criminal behavior. The PREMOS study is a prospective, longitudinal, naturalistic clinical study of a nationally representative sample of 2,694 opioid-dependent patients to investigate convictions and criminal behavior at baseline and after 6 years of maintenance treatment. At follow-up, 2,284 patients still were eligible (84.7 percent). A comprehensive assessment including a patient and doctor questionnaire, and the EuropASI was completed at baseline and follow-up. Data on criminality at follow-up had been received for 1,147 (70.6 percent) patients. A large number (84.5 percent) of them had been charged or convicted at any time before baseline assessment, most frequently with drug-related offenses (66.8 percent), acquisitive crime (49.1 percent), or acts of violence (22.0 percent). Reported charges and convictions had declined to 17.9 percent for the last 12 months before follow-up, which was also reflected by a significant decrease in the EuropASI subscore "legal problems" from 1.52 at baseline to 0.98 after 6 years. These data indicate a significant and clinically relevant reduction in criminal behavior in opioid-dependent patients in long-term maintenance treatment. Maintenance therapy is effective in the reduction in both narcotics-related and acquisition crime. Abstract published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons.