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Factors associated with heroin use among those reporting prescription opioid misuse: Results from a nationally representative sample

A. Taylor Thomas, MD, MPH, Kara G. Fields, MS, Alan D. Kaye, MD, PhD, Richard D. Urman, MD, MBA

Abstract


Objective: The present investigation aims to identify characteristics associated with heroin use among those reporting prescription opioid misuse from a nationally representative sample, and how these characteristics vary by urbanicity.

Design: A cross-sectional analysis.

Setting: Pooled 2015-2018 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the leading source for nationally representative substance use, mental health, and other health-related data and trends in the United States.

Patients and participants: 23,719 participants (12,109 male and 11,610 female) reporting previous prescription opioid misuse in the 2015-2018 NSDUH data.

Interventions: None.

Main outcome measures: Univariable and multivariable logistic regressions were used to assess the association of characteristics with heroin use, stratified by urbanicity.

Results: After multivariable adjustment, factors associated with heroin use among prescription opioid misusers were male sex, non-Hispanic White race, low educational attainment, recent nonopioid illicit drug use, and recent nonopioid prescription drug misuse. Commercial health insurance was associated with lower odds of heroin use among both rural and urban prescription opioid misusers, but an observed association between Medicaid and greater odds of heroin use was stronger among urban versus rural participants. In contrast, observed associations between illicit drug use other than marijuana in the past year and greater odds of heroin use were stronger among rural vs urban participants.

Conclusion: Important differences exist between factors associated with heroin use among urban and rural prescription opioid misusers, and there is a need to consider broader polysubstance use trends and barriers to mental healthcare access to adequately address heroin use.


Keywords


heroin, opioid, drug abuse, substance abuse, opioid epidemic

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2022.0716

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