Background: Studies on diabetes among illicit drug users are scarce in Finland. This study aimed to describe hospitalization and death due to diabetes among treatment-seeking illicit drug users.
Methods: Information of 4817 treatment-seeking drug users (3365 men and 1452 women) aged 11-65 years (mean 24.5 years) was linked to the Finnish national hospital discharge register and the national death registry to identify those clients who were hospitalized or died from diabetes mellitus during 1997-2013.
Results: Fifty-three persons (42 men and 11 women) had primary diagnoses of diabetes, with a total of 146 hospitalizations (121 among men and 25 among women). The total length of stay among men (1183 days) far exceeded those of women (138 days). Overall, type 1 diabetes was the main contributor to hospitalizations (67%, n = 98/146). The proportion of Type 1 diabetes with complications was 31% in men (n = 37/121) and 44% in women (n = 11/25). All cases of deaths due to diabetes (n = 7) occurred in men.
Conclusion: Diabetes hospitalizations were mainly due to Type 1 diabetes. Longer length of hospital stay was observed in men, and all diabetes deaths occurred among men. Male drug users and drug users in general would require more support to reduce morbidity and mortality due to diabetes.