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Prevalence and correlates of fentanyl-contaminated heroin exposure among young adults who use prescription opioids non-medically
  • Published Date:
    Jan 06 2017
  • Source:
    Addict Behav. 68:35-38.

Public Access Version Available on: May 01, 2018 information icon
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  • Pubmed ID:
  • Pubmed Central ID:
  • Description:

    The rate of overdose deaths caused by fentanyl-contaminated heroin (FCH) use is increasing rapidly in the United States. We examined risk factors for exposure to FCH and experiences with FCH use among young adult non-medical prescription opioids (NMPO) users.


    We analyzed data from the Rhode Island Young Adult Prescription Drug Study (RAPiDS), which enrolled young adults aged 18 to 29 reporting prior 30 day NMPO use between January 2015 and February 2016. Participants completed questionnaires ascertaining drug use patterns and risk behaviors, including FCH exposure. Logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with known or suspected FCH exposure.


    Of 199 participants, the median age was 25 (IQR: 22, 27), 130 (65.3%) were male, and 122 (61.3%) were of white, non-Hispanic race/ethnicity. In total, 22 (11%) reported known or suspected FCH exposure in the prior six months. Several drug use patterns and risk behaviors were associated with FCH exposure, including: regular heroin and cocaine use; diverted pharmaceutical fentanyl use in the prior six months; NMPO use to avoid withdrawal symptoms; longer duration of NMPO use; injection drug use; and prior overdose (all p<0.001). Among participants who reported 3 FCH exposure, 59% were unaware that their heroin was contaminated with fentanyl prior to last use, 59% reported that FCH provides a better high, and all recognized that fentanyl increases overdose risk.


    Exposure to fentanyl-contaminated heroin is an emerging trend among young adult NMPO users in Rhode Island. Overdose prevention programs addressing FCH use are urgently needed.

  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Funding:
    T32 HD075727/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    T32 DA013911/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    U01 CE002165/CE/NCIPC CDC HHS/United States
    R03 DA037770/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    R18 HS024021/HS/AHRQ HHS/United States
    R21 CE001846/CE/NCIPC CDC HHS/United States
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