Opioid analgesics and heroin: Examining drug misuse trends among a sample of drug treatment clients in Kentucky

Grant A. Victor, Robert Walker, Jennifer Cole, T. K. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background In an effort to mitigate Kentucky's prescription drug misuse, legislative intervention efforts were introduced in 2012 and 2013 to better regulate pain clinics, prescribed use of opioid analgesics, and to expand the monitoring of opioid prescriptions. The focus of this paper is primarily on opioid analgesics and heroin and the relationship of use/misuse patterns of these drugs to state drug policy initiatives. Methods A secondary data analysis of drug treatment clients (N = 52,360) was conducted to project illicit drug use trends in Kentucky. This study describes temporal and geographic trends of self-reported illicit drug use among individuals in state-funded treatment in Kentucky between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2013. Results Significant reductions in the prevalence of illicit opioid use, declined from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2013 (p < .01, CI = −.298 to −.215). However, heroin use rates significantly increased over the years studied, suggesting there may be a transition from prescription opioids to heroin (p < .01, CI = .143 to.178). The analysis suggests these trends may continue. Conclusions Findings suggest Kentucky's legislative efforts were effective in reducing illicit prescription opioid use, but heroin use has increased. One possible explanation for this relationship is that as prescription opioids became more difficult to obtain, users turned to heroin as a substitute. The finding of rising heroin use suggests a need for further policy initiatives to reduce heroin use, but the potential effectiveness of this policy remains unclear. Understanding trends may help to guide future policy efforts and pain management treatment strategies to where they might have their greatest impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume46
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Drug trends
  • Heroin
  • Kentucky
  • Opioids
  • Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

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