The impact of substance use disorders (SUD) in an Asian population has not been fully explored. We aimed to assess the risk of mortality, accident and emergency (A&E) department attendances, and hospital admissions associated with SUD in a population-based cohort study.
Patients diagnosed with SUD in public A&E departments from 2004 to 2016 (N = 8,423) were identified in the Clinical Database Analysis and Reporting System of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and 1:1 matched to patients without SUD by propensity score (N = 6,074 in each group). Relative risks of mortality, A&E attendances and hospital admissions were assessed using Cox regression and Hurdle negative binomial regression.
Patients with SUD had higher mortality (hazard ratio=1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.26-1.62) and more often died from poisoning or toxicity and injuries. The odds ratio (OR) for A&E attendances and all-cause hospital admissions associated with SUD were 2.80 (95% CI=2.58-3.04) and 3.54 (95% CI=3.26-3.83), respectively. The impact of SUD on the above outcomes was greatest among school-aged individuals (≤ 21 years) and decreased with age. The relative risk of mental disorder-related hospital admissions was much higher than that for infections, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. In patients with SUD, ketamine and amphetamine use were associated with increased A&E attendances than opioid use.
SUD was associated with increased mortality, A&E attendances and hospital admissions, especially in school-aged individuals. Our findings suggest prioritising early treatment and preventive interventions for school-aged individuals and focusing on the management of comorbid mental disorders and the use of ketamine and amphetamine.

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