"Hooked on" prescription-type opiates prior to using heroin: results from a survey of syringe exchange clients.
ABSTRACT The availability and diversion of prescription-type opioids increased dramatically in the first decade of the twenty-first century. One possible consequence of increased prescription opioid use and accessibility is the associated rise in opioid dependence, potentially resulting in heroin addiction. This study aimed to determine how common initial dependence on prescription-type opioids is among heroin injectors; associations with demographic and drug-using characteristics were also examined. Interview data were collected at syringe exchanges in King County, Washington in 2009. Among the respondents who had used heroin in the prior four months, 39% reported being "hooked on" prescription-type opioids first. Regression analysis indicated that younger age, sedative use and no recent crack use were independently associated with self-report of being hooked on prescription-type opioids prior to using heroin. These data quantify the phenomenon of being hooked on prescription-type opioids prior to initiating heroin use. Further research is needed to characterize the epidemiology, etiology and trajectory of prescription-type opioid and heroin use in the context of continuing widespread availability of prescription-type opioids.
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ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Over the past several years, there have been a number of mainstream media reports that the abuse of heroin has migrated from low-income urban areas with large minority populations to more affluent suburban and rural areas with primarily white populations. OBJECTIVE To examine the veracity of these anecdotal reports and define the relationship between the abuse of prescription opioids and the abuse of heroin. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Using a mixed-methods approach, we analyzed (1) data from an ongoing study that uses structured, self-administered surveys to gather retrospective data on past drug use patterns among patients entering substance abuse treatment programs across the country who received a primary (DSM-IV) diagnosis of heroin use/dependence (n = 2797) and (2) data from unstructured qualitative interviews with a subset of patients (n = 54) who completed the structured interview. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES In addition to data on population demographics and current residential location, we used cross-tabulations to assess prevalence rates as a function of the decade of the initiation of abuse for (1) first opioid used (prescription opioid or heroin), (2) sex, (3) race/ethnicity, and (4) age at first use. Respondents indicated in an open-ended format why they chose heroin as their primary drug and the interrelationship between their use of heroin and their use of prescription opioids. RESULTS Approximately 85% of treatment-seeking patients approached to complete the Survey of Key Informants' Patients Program did so. Respondents who began using heroin in the 1960s were predominantly young men (82.8%; mean age, 16.5 years) whose first opioid of abuse was heroin (80%). However, more recent users were older (mean age, 22.9 years) men and women living in less urban areas (75.2%) who were introduced to opioids through prescription drugs (75.0%). Whites and nonwhites were equally represented in those initiating use prior to the 1980s, but nearly 90% of respondents who began use in the last decade were white. Although the "high" produced by heroin was described as a significant factor in its selection, it was often used because it was more readily accessible and much less expensive than prescription opioids. CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.JAMA Psychiatry 05/2014; 71(7). DOI:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.366 · 12.01 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objectives. We sought to collect and characterize all laws governing the operation of prescription monitoring programs (PMPs), state-level databases that collect patient-specific prescription information, which have been suggested as a tool for reducing prescription drug overdose fatalities. Methods. We utilized a structured legal research protocol to systematically identify, review, and code all PMP statutes and regulations effective from 1998 through 2011. These laws were then abstracted along eleven domains, including reporting provisions, data sharing, and data access. Results. PMP characteristics vary greatly among states and across time. We observed an increase in the types and frequency of data required to be reported, the types of individuals permitted to access PMP data, and the percentage of PMPs authorized to proactively identify outlier prescribers and patients. As of 2011, 10 states required PMPs to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, while only 3 required reporting to the patient's physician. None required linkage to drug treatment or required all prescribers to review PMP data before prescribing. Few explicitly address data retention. Conclusions. State PMP laws are heterogeneous and evolving. Future studies of PMP effectiveness should take these variations into account. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print June 12, 2014: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301923).American Journal of Public Health 06/2014; 104(8):e1-e7. DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301923 · 4.23 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Abstract The study uses qualitative and quantitative data to describe sources of pain pills for illicit use among young adult (18- to 23-year-old) users. Respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit 383 individuals in the Columbus, Ohio, area. The sample was almost 50% Caucasian and about 55% male. Qualitative interview participants (n = 45) were selected from the larger sample. Qualitative data suggest that pharmaceutical opioid availability was so pervasive that most individuals did not have to venture outside of their immediate social networks to find people who sold or shared pills. Participants emphasized differences between those who are actively involved in obtaining pills and those who play a more passive role. Active involvement was described as going out searching for pills and paying money to obtain them. In contrast, passive role included obtaining pills when somebody offered or shared them free of charge. Multiple logistic regression analysis indicates that a more active role in obtaining pharmaceutical opioids was related to being White, more frequent use of pharmaceutical opioids, extended-release oxycodone use, and using pharmaceutical opioids to get high, as opposed to self-treating a health problem. The study results can help inform drug use epidemiology, interventions, and policy.Journal of psychoactive drugs 07/2014; 46(3):198-207. DOI:10.1080/02791072.2014.916833 · 1.10 Impact Factor