Longitudinal trends in nonmedical prescription opioid use in a cohort of rural Appalachian people who use drugs

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Rural Appalachia remains an epicenter of the prescription opioid epidemic. In 2008, a cohort study was undertaken to examine longitudinal trends in nonmedical prescription opioid use (NMPOU). Eight waves of data (2008–2020) from the Social Networks among Appalachian People (SNAP) cohort were utilized for the current analysis. Only those who reported recent (past 6-month) NMPOU at baseline are included (n = 498, 99%). Mixed-effects logistic regression was used to model factors associated with NMPOU over time. Recent NMPOU declined significantly over the past decade (p < .001). However, 54.1% of participants still engaged in NMPOU at their most recent follow-up. Receipt of benefits for a physical or mental disability (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 3.11, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.98, 4.90) and self-described poor health status (aOR: 3.67, 95% CI: 1.61, 8.37) were both associated with NMPOU. All treatment modalities (methadone maintenance, residential, outpatient counseling) tested in the model, with the notable exception of detoxification, were associated with significantly lower odds of NMPOU. Although significant declines in prescription opioid misuse were observed in the cohort, more than half of all participants were engaged in NMPOU more than a decade after entering the study. Substance use disorder (SUD) treatment (excluding detoxification) was shown associated with reduced odds of continued NMPOU; therefore, increasing access to evidence-based treatments should be a priority in rural areas affected by the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106194
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Appalachia
  • Nonmedical prescription opioid use
  • Opioid
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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