Opioid abuse tied to subsequent heroin use in teenagers

  • JAMA Pediatr

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • High-school students with a history of nonmedical prescription opioid use were 10%-13% more likely to subsequently use heroin than opioid-naive teenagers.

Why this matters

  • This study followed teenagers for 42 months, offering the first long-term look at how illicit opioid use increases the risks of future heroin use in this population.

Study design

  • Study of 3298 participants (age, 14-18 years) during 2013-2017.
  • Funding: NIH.

Key results

  • 2.1% of participants initiated heroin use during the follow-up period.
  • Nonmedical prescription opioid use was significantly associated with subsequent heroin use initiation in the participants with:
    • Prior nonmedical prescription opioid use vs no use (HR, 3.59; P<.001 and>
    • Current nonmedical prescription opioid use vs no use (HR, 4.37; P<.001>
  • Nonnopioid substance use was significantly higher in participants with prior substance use vs no use (HR, 2.20; P<.001>

Limitations

  • Survey-based design.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD