To examine the demographic, physical, and mental health characteristics; current drug use patterns; motivations for use; and diversion sources among elderly prescription opioid misusers.
Mixed methods design.
Research field offices, or senior or community center offices in South Florida.
Individuals aged 60 and over reporting past 90-day prescription medication misuse; only prescription opioid misusers (N = 88) were included in the final analysis.
The Global Appraisal of Individual Needs was the main survey instrument. A subsample of elderly reporting substantial prescription drug misuse were chosen for the in-depth interview (N = 30).
The mean age was 63.3. Fifty percent reported ever being admitted to a drug treatment program; several endorsed recent illicit drug use: powder cocaine and/or crack (35.2%), marijuana (30.7%), heroin (14.8%). The majority reported past year severe physical pain and discomfort (86.4%), and misuse of their primary opioid for pain (80.7%); over half (52.3%) obtained their primary opioid from their regular doctor. Qualitative data highlight the misuse of prescription opioids due to untreated or undertreated pain. Participants with primary opioid misuse for pain had over 12 times higher odds of obtaining the medication from their regular doctor (odds ratio [OR] = 12.22, P = 0.002) and had lower odds of using a dealer (OR = 0.20, P = 0.005).
Findings suggest that this group of elderly participants often misuse their own prescriptions for pain management. This study highlights the need to educate prescribing professionals on appropriate pain management for older adults while still being sensitive to issues of substance abuse and dependence.
Older Adults; Pain Management; Substance Abuse; Opioids
Benzodiazepines (BZs) are among the most frequently prescribed drugs with the potential for abuse. Young adults ages 18–29 report the highest rates of BZ misuse in the United States. The majority of club drug users are also in this age group, and BZ misuse is prevalent in the nightclub scene. BZ dependence, however, is not well documented. This paper examines BZ dependence and its correlates among multidrug users in South Florida’s nightclub scene.
Data were drawn from structured interviews with men and women (N=521) who reported regular attendance at large dance clubs and recent use of both club drugs and BZs.
Prevalences of BZ-related problems were 7.9% for BZ dependence, 22.6% BZ abuse, and 25% BZ abuse and/or dependence. In bivariate logistic regression models, heavy cocaine use (OR 2.27; 95% CI 1.18, 4.38), severe mental distress (OR 2.63; 95% CI 1.33, 5.21), and childhood victimization history (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.10, 5.38) were associated with BZ dependence. Heavy cocaine use (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.10, 4.18) and severe mental distress (OR 2.16; 95% CI 1.07, 4.37) survived as predictors in the multivariate model.
BZ misuse is widespread among multidrug users in the club scene, who also exhibit high levels of other health and social problems. BZ dependence appears to be more prevalent in this sample than in other populations described in the literature. Recommendations for intervention and additional research are described.
benzodiazepine; young adult; club drugs; drug dependence
Serosorting is commonly employed by MSM to reduce HIV risk. We hypothesize that MSM perceive serosorting to be effective, and that serosorting is predicted by resilience and inversely related to syndemic characteristics. Surveys included 504 substance-using MSM. Logistic regression models examined syndemic and resilience predictors of serosorting, separately by serostatus. For HIV-positive men, positive coping behaviors (P = .015) and coping self-efficacy (P = .014) predicted higher odds, and cognitive escape behaviors (P = .003) lower odds, of serosorting. For HIV-negative men, social engagement (P = .03) and coping self-efficacy (P = .01) predicted higher odds, and severe mental distress (P = .001), victimization history (P = .007) and cognitive escape behaviors (P = .006) lower odds, of serosorting. HIV-negative serosorters reported lower perceptions of risk for infection than non-serosorters (P < .000). Although high risk HIV-negative men may perceive serosorting to be effective, their high rates of UAI and partner change render this an ineffective risk reduction approach. Relevant public health messages are urgently needed.
Foster care has been associated with increased HIV risk behaviors among youth, yet long-term association with HIV infection has not been examined. This study explored the associations between foster placement, victimization, mental health, onset of sex work and HIV infection among highly vulnerable female sex workers. 562 drug-involved African American women were enrolled into an intervention study to increase health services utilization and reduce HIV risk. Seventeen percent reported a history of foster placement. Foster history was associated with significantly lower educational attainment, higher victimization, and more severe mental health problems. Women with foster histories reported significantly earlier entry into paid sex work, with some 62% active in the sex trade before age 18. Multivariate analyses found that foster care was independently associated with HIV seropositivity, and that early sex work partially mediated this association. The potential long-term health vulnerabilities associated with foster placement are understudied and warrant additional research.
women; sex workers; HIV; foster care
Street-based female sex workers constitute a vulnerable population for HIV, as they are often enmeshed in chronic patterns of substance use, sexual risk, homelessness, and violent victimization. This study examined the specific contributions of victimization history and abuse-related traumagenic factors to mental health functioning and sexual risk behaviors, while considering the impact of environmental risk factors as well. Using targeted sampling strategies, we enrolled 562 Miami-based female sex workers into an intervention trial testing the relative effectiveness of two alternative case management conditions in establishing linkages with health services and reducing risk for HIV. Lifetime prevalence of abuse was extremely elevated at 88%. Nearly half reported abuse before the age of 18, while 34% reported violent encounters with “dates” or clients in the past 90 days. Serious mental illness (SMI) was quite common, with 74% reporting severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, or traumatic stress. For those with histories of abuse, SMI appeared to mediate the association between abuse-related trauma and unprotected sex behaviors. Mental health treatment would appear to be an important component of effective HIV prevention among this vulnerable group, and should form part of a compendium of services offered to female sex workers.
Using a sample of 482 ethnically diverse current substance using men who have sex with men (MSM) who reported recent unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), this study compared health risk behaviors – substance use and sexual HIV risk – and one health protective factor – prosocial activities - between men who live in a gay neighborhood and those who do not. Data are drawn from comprehensive health and social risk assessments administered in South Florida. In a multivariate logistic regression model, methamphetamine use, high rates of receptive UAI, and lower levels of prosocial engagement were found to be risk factors associated with gay neighborhood residence. Compared to living elsewhere, gay neighborhood residence appeared to be protective against cocaine use and substance dependence. Implications of the findings for prevention interventions are discussed, as is the need for further research regarding decisions about neighborhood residence and how neighborhood risk and protective factors emerge and are sustained.
MSM; neighborhoods; substance use; sex risk; risk factors
This research examined the following questions: (1) how do drug dealers acquire their inventories of prescription medications? and (2) which types of prescription medications do dealers most commonly sell? Data are drawn from a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded research study that examined prescription drug diversion and abuse in South Florida. In-depth semi-structured interviews (n = 50) were conducted with an ethnically diverse sample of prescription drug dealers from a variety of milieus to assess patterns of diversion. Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed, coded, and thematically analysed using the NVivo 8 software program. Dealers relied on a wide array of diversion methods including visiting multiple pain clinics, working with pharmacy employees to steal medications from pharmacies, and purchasing medications from indigent patients. The type of medication most commonly sold by dealers was prescription opioid analgesics, and to a lesser extent benzodiazepines such as alprazolam. These findings inform public health policy makers, criminal justice officials, the pharmaceutical industry and government regulatory agencies in their efforts to reduce the availability of diverted prescription drugs in the illicit market. Specifically, these data support the need for statewide prescription drug monitoring programs and increased training for healthcare workers who have access to controlled medications.
Modern desistance research has examined many facets of desistance, in terms of theoretical predictors of desistance and recidivism, and in terms of differing types of offending. Though predicting desistance from illegal drug use is among these topics, no research to date has examined the predictors of desisting from prescription opioid abuse. This study uses longitudinal data from 318 prescription opioid users to analyze the effects of various predictors of desistance on declining nonmedical prescription opioid use, with an emphasis on gender differences among participants. Results indicate that theoretical and demographic characteristics correspond with differing rates of decline and further vary by gender.
Prescription drug abuse; opioids; desistance
Gay and bisexual men continue to suffer the highest burden of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Since the beginning of the epidemic, substance abuse has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of sexual risk behaviors and seroconversion among this population. Recent research has focused on additional aspects of health risk disparities among gay and bisexual men, including depression and other mental health problems, childhood sexual abuse, and adult victimization, suggesting that these men are impacted by a syndemic of health risks. The involvement of gay and bisexual men with the criminal justice system is largely absent from the literature. This article describes the nature, extent and predictors of the arrest histories of a sample of gay and bisexual substance users at very high risk for HIV infection and/or transmission. These histories are surprisingly extensive, and are strongly associated with poverty, severe mental distress, substance abuse and dependence, and victimization. The involvement of gay and bisexual men in the criminal justice system deserves a stronger research focus because of the unique challenges facing such men and also because arrests are yet another marker for a host of health risks among them.
arrest history; gay men; HIV/AIDS; MSM; syndemic theory
Route of administration is an important contributor to the adverse health consequences of prescription medication abuse. The present study examines characteristics associated with non-oral routes of administration among a large sample of prescription opioid abusers, and explores needle related
HIV risk behaviors as well. 791 opioid abusers completed a one-time, structured interview including complete histories of illicit and prescription drug abuse, and route of drug administration. The most common method of pill use was oral (91%), followed by intranasal (53.1%), injection (23.8%), and smoking (14.5%). The youngest prescription opioid abusers, ages 18–24, displayed significantly higher odds of employing alternate route of administration, and also of re-using nonsterile needles for injection. HIV prevention programming should be developed for young prescription opioid injectors.
prescription opioid abuse; route of administration; HIV
Numerous national surveys and surveillance programs have shown a substantial rise in the abuse of prescription opioids over the past 15 years. Accessibility of these drugs to non-patients is the result of their unlawful channeling from legal sources to the illicit marketplace (diversion). Empirical data on diversion remain absent from the literature. This paper examines abusers’ sources of diverted drugs from two large studies: 1) a national sample of opioid treatment clients (N=1983), and 2) a South Florida study targeting diverse populations of opioid abusers (N=782). The most common sources of diverted medications were dealers, sharing/trading, legitimate medical practice (e.g., unknowing medical providers), illegitimate medical practice (e.g., pill mills), and theft, in that order. Sources varied by users’ age, gender, ethnicity, risk-aversiveness, primary opioid of abuse, injection drug use, physical health, drug dependence, and either access to health insurance or relative financial wealth. Implications for prescription drug control policy are discussed.
Ecstasy and LSD use is widespread in large Brazilian cities, but there is limited information on their use among young, middle-class, club goers in Brazil. We conducted standardized face-to-face interviews with 200 male and female ecstasy and/or LSD users, focusing on drug use and sexual history, current risk behaviors, and psychiatric symptomatology. Participants with early sexual debut (before 14) were more likely to report lifetime use of marijuana and powder and crack cocaine than those with later sexual initiation. Early sexual debut was associated with past year sexual risk behaviors, including having sex while high (Prevalence Ratio (PR)=1.3), having two or more sex partners (PR=1.3), as well as history of sexual abuse (PR=13.6). Depression and anxiety scores were similar by age of sexual initiation. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Anal sexual intercourse represents the highest transmission risk for infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), yet much of what we know about anal sex is based on men who have sex with men (MSM). Less is known about heterosexual adults who practice anal sex, especially those who may be at risk for HIV such as substance users. The present study examined the demographic, sexual behaviors, substance use, and psychosocial correlates of recent anal intercourse among a heterosexual young adult sample of nightclub goers who also use substances. Data were drawn from an on-going natural history study of participants (n=597) in Miami's club scene who use club drugs, use prescription medications for non-medical reasons, and were regular attendees of nightclubs. Participants who reported anal sex (n=118) were more likely to be male, of moderate income, Latino, trade sex, have unprotected sex, and report victimization. Event-based and qualitative studies are needed to better understand the context in which anal sex occurs. Interventions that target heterosexual populations should include discussion about the risks of anal sex.
Anal sex; Drug use; Heterosexual; Mental health; Sexual risk
A variety of surveys and studies are examined in an effort to better understand the scope of prescription drug diversion and to determine if there are consistent patterns of diversion among various populations of prescription drug abusers. Data are drawn from the RADARS® System, the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Delaware School Survey, and a series of quantitative and qualitative studies conducted in Miami, Florida. The data suggest that the major sources of diversion include drug dealers, friends and relatives, smugglers, pain patients, and the elderly, but these vary by the population being targeted. In all of the studies examined, the use of the Internet as a source for prescription drugs is insignificant. Little is known about where drug dealers are obtaining their supplies, and as such, prescription drug diversion is a “black box” requiring concentrated systematic study.
prescription drugs; diversion; oxycodone; hydrocodone; club drugs
Prescription drug diversion involves the unlawful channeling of regulated pharmaceuticals from legal sources to the illicit marketplace, and can occur along all points in the drug delivery process, from the original manufacturing site to the wholesale distributor, the physician's office, the retail pharmacy, or the patient. However, empirical data on diversion are limited.
In an attempt to develop a better understanding of how specific drug-using populations are diverting prescription opioids and other medications, or obtaining controlled drugs that have already been diverted, qualitative interviews and focus group data were collected on four separate populations of prescription drug abusers in Miami, Florida—club drug users, street-based illicit drug users, methadone maintenance patients, and HIV positive individuals who abuse and/or divert drugs.
Sources of abused prescription drugs cited by focus group participants were extremely diverse, including their physicians and pharmacists; parents and relatives; “doctor shopping”; leftover supplies following an illness or injury; personal visits to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean; prescriptions intended for the treatment of mental illness; direct sales on the street and in nightclubs; pharmacy and hospital theft; through friends or acquaintances; under-the-door apartment flyers advertising telephone numbers to call; and “stealing from grandma's medicine cabinet.”
While doctor shoppers, physicians and the Internet receive much of the attention regarding diversion, the data reported in this paper suggest that there are numerous active street markets involving patients, Medicaid recipients and pharmacies as well. In addition, there are other data which suggest that the contributions of residential burglaries, pharmacy robberies and thefts, and “sneak thefts” to the diversion problem may be understated.
Prescription Drug Abuse; Prescription Drug Diversion; Opioids; Pain Medication
Adopting socioecological, intersectionality, and lifecourse theoretical frameworks may enhance our understanding of the production of syndemic adverse health outcomes among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). From this perspective, we present preliminary data from three related studies that suggest ways in which social contexts may influence the health of MSM. The first study, using cross-sectional data, looked at migration of MSM to the gay resort area of South Florida, and found that amount of time lived in the area was associated with risk behaviors and HIV infection. The second study, using qualitative interviews, observed complex interactions between neighborhood-level social environments and individual-level racial and sexual identity among MSM in New York City. The third study, using egocentric network analysis with a sample of African American MSM in Baltimore, found that sexual partners were more likely to be found through face-to-face means than the Internet. They also observed that those who co-resided with a sex partner had larger networks of people to depend on for social and financial support, but had the same size sexual networks as those who did not live with a partner. Overall, these findings suggest the need for further investigation into the role of macro-level social forces on the emotional, behavioral, and physical health of urban MSM.
Homosexuality; Male; Urban health; Social environment