The health of people attending residential treatment for alcohol and other drug use: Prevalence of and risks for major lifestyle diseases

Publication Name

Drug and Alcohol Review


Introduction: Cardiovascular disease and cancers are the leading cause of mortality amongst people accessing treatment for alcohol and other drug use. The current study aimed to examine risk factors for chronic disease amongst people attending residential alcohol and other drug treatment services. Methods: Participants (N = 325) were attending residential alcohol and other drug treatment services across Australia. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk scores were calculated using established risk estimation algorithms. Differences in existing health conditions, risk factors for chronic diseases and risk algorithms were calculated for males and females. Results: In addition to alcohol and other drug use (including tobacco use), 95% of the sample had at least one other risk factor for chronic disease. Of participants not already diagnosed, 36% were at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and 11% had a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The heart age of participants was 11 years older than actual age (Mage = 40.63, Mheart age = 52.41). Males had a higher cardiovascular disease risk than females. Discussion and Conclusions: A large proportion of people accessing residential alcohol and other drug treatment were at risk of chronic disease. Future research is needed that uses objective indicators of physical health. Such research will help to develop our understanding of prevention and intervention initiatives that could be adopted by treatment providers to improve the physical health of their consumers.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Cancer Institute



Link to publisher version (DOI)