Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Kerry Nolte



Background: Opioids and related injections are the most common drug associated with infection (Capizzi et al., 2020). Overall, data overwhelmingly shows infection and overdose rates on the rise in recent years (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2019).

Methods: The aim of this study was to identify trends between age and concurrent infection rates related to substance use from 2012 to 2019. This quantitative study utilized data from the NH Hospital Discharge Summaries (Office of Health Statistics, 2021). Specifically, trends among three age groups (young adults (18-34), middle-aged (35-54), and older adults (55+)) who were admitted to an inpatient unit or the emergency department (ED) for both an infection and substance use were analyzed.

Results: All age groups (inpatient and ED) saw an overall increase in rates of infection from 2012 to 2019. Inpatient and emergency department findings were similar. Young adults consistently have the highest rates of infection, middle-aged adults had the highest increase in infection rates over the years, and older adults had the lowest rates.

Discussion: The findings presented are extremely concerning for all age groups. Age-specific interventions should be put in place for all age groups to help decrease substance use and provide help to those suffering from addiction (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).

Conclusion: There has been a significant increase in infection rates related to substance use among all age groups (Office of Health Statistics, 2021). The findings presented are concerning for the state of NH as hospital admissions for infection rise. Continued monitoring of substance use and infection rates should be recorded, as this data has not been used in monitoring the opioid epidemic. Noting patterns in this data may allow for improved interventions to lower substance misuse and overdose. NH should focus on offering age-specific interventions and resources to help decrease opioid use which would lead to fewer infections and fewer deaths (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).