Heroin and Methamphetamine Injection: An Emerging Drug Use Pattern
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Heroin and Methamphetamine Injection: An Emerging Drug Use Pattern

Filetype[PDF-156.70 KB]


  • Alternative Title:
    Subst Use Misuse
  • Description:

    We sought to describe an emerging drug use pattern characterized by injection of both methamphetamine and heroin. We examined differences in drug injection patterns by demographics, injection behaviors, HIV and HCV status, and overdose.


    Persons who inject drugs (PWID) were recruited as part of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) system in Denver, Colorado. We used chi-square statistics to assess differences between those who reported only heroin injection, only methamphetamine injection, and combined heroin and methamphetamine injection. We used generalized linear models to estimate unadjusted and adjusted prevalence ratios to describe the association between drug injection pattern and reported nonfatal overdose in 2015. We also examined changes in the drug reported as most frequently injected across previous NHBS cycles from 2005, 2009, and 2012.


    Of 592 participants who completed the survey in 2015, 173 (29.2%) reported only injecting heroin, 123 (20.8%) reported only injecting methamphetamine, and 296 (50.0%) reported injecting both drugs during the past 12 months. Injecting both heroin and methamphetamine was associated with a 2.8 (95% confidence interval: 1.7, 4.5) fold increase in reported overdose in the past 12 months compared with only injecting heroin. The proportion of those reporting methamphetamine as the most frequently injected drug increased from 2.1% in 2005 to 29.6% in 2015 (p < 0.001).


    The rapid increase in methamphetamine injection, and the emergence of combining methamphetamine with heroin, may have serious public health implications.

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