Sociodemographic factors and social determinants associated with toxicology confirmed polysubstance opioid-related deaths.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND AIMS:While prescribed and illicit opioid use are primary drivers of the national surges in overdose deaths, opioid overdose deaths in which stimulants are also present are increasing in the U.S. We determined the social determinants and sociodemographic factors associated with opioid-only versus polysubstance opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts. Particular attention was focused on the role of stimulants in opioid overdose deaths. METHODS:We analyzed all opioid-related overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015 in an individually-linked population database in Massachusetts. We used linked postmortem toxicology data to identify drugs present at the time of death. We constructed a multinomial logistic regression model to identify factors associated with three mutually exclusive overdose death groups based on toxicological results: opioid-related deaths with (1) opioids only present, (2) opioids and other substances not including stimulants, and (3) opioids and stimulants with or without other substances. RESULTS:Between 2014 and 2015, there were 2,244 opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts that had accompanying toxicology results. Toxicology reports indicated that 17% had opioids only, 36% had opioids plus stimulants, and 46% had opioids plus another non-stimulant substance. Persons older than 24 years, non-rural residents, those with comorbid mental illness, non-Hispanic black residents, and persons with recent homelessness were more likely than their counterparts to die with opioids and stimulants than opioids alone. CONCLUSIONS:Polysubstance opioid overdose is increasingly common in the US. Addressing modifiable social determinants of health, including barriers to mental health services and homelessness, is important to reduce polysubstance use and overdose deaths.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Provisional estimates indicate that drug overdose deaths increased in 2019 after a slight decrease in 2018. In 2018, overdose deaths primarily involved opioids, with continued increases in deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs). Deaths involving stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are also increasing, mainly in combination with opioids. METHODS:CDC analyzed data on drug overdose deaths during January-June 2019 from 24 states and the District of Columbia (DC) in the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System to describe characteristics and circumstances of opioid- and stimulant-involved overdose deaths. RESULTS:Among 16,236 drug overdose deaths in 24 states and DC, 7,936 (48.9%) involved opioids without stimulants, 5,301 (32.6%) involved opioids and stimulants, 2,056 (12.7%) involved stimulants without opioids, and 943 (5.8%) involved neither opioids nor stimulants. Approximately 80% of overdose deaths involved one or more opioid, and IMFs were involved in three of four opioid-involved overdose deaths. IMFs, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine (alone or in combination) were involved in 83.8% of overdose deaths. More than three in five (62.7%) overdose deaths had documentation of at least one potential opportunity for overdose prevention intervention. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE:Identifying opportunities to intervene before an overdose death and implementing evidence-based prevention policies, programs, and practices could save lives. Strategies should address characteristics of overdoses involving IMFs, such as rapid overdose progression, as well as opioid and stimulant co-involvement. These efforts should be complemented by efforts to prevent initiation of prescription opioid and stimulant misuse and illicit drug use.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The US is experiencing an unprecedented opioid overdose epidemic fostered in recent years by regional contamination of the heroin supply with the fentanyl family of synthetic opioids. Since 2011 opioid-related overdose deaths in the East Coast state of Massachusetts have more than tripled, with 75% of the 1374 deaths with an available toxicology positive for fentanyl. Fentanyl is 30-50X more potent than heroin and its presence makes heroin use more unpredictable. A rapid ethnographic assessment was undertaken to understand the perceptions and experiences of people who inject drugs sold as 'heroin' and to observe the drugs and their use. METHODS:A team of ethnographers conducted research in northeast Massachusetts and Nashua, New Hampshire in June 2016, performing (n=38) qualitative interviews with persons who use heroin. RESULTS:(1) The composition and appearance of heroin changed in the last four years; (2) heroin is cheaper and more widely available than before; and (3) heroin 'types' have proliferated with several products being sold as 'heroin'. These consisted of two types of heroin (alone), fentanyl (alone), and heroin-fentanyl combinations. In the absence of available toxicological information on retail-level heroin, our research noted a hierarchy of fentanyl discernment methods, with embodied effects considered most reliable in determining fentanyl's presence, followed by taste, solution appearance and powder color. This paper presents a new 'heroin' typology based on users' reports. CONCLUSION:Massachusetts' heroin has new appearances and is widely adulterated by fentanyl. Persons who use heroin are trying to discern the substances sold as heroin and their preferences for each form vary. The heroin typology presented is inexact but can be validated by correlating users' discernment with drug toxicological testing. If validated, this typology would be a valuable harm reduction tool. Further research on adaptations to heroin adulteration could reduce risks of using heroin and synthetic opioid combinations.
Project description:Drug overdose is now the leading cause of unintentional death nationwide, driven by increased prescription opioid overdoses. To better understand urban opioid overdose deaths, this paper examines geographic, demographic, and clinical differences between heroin-related decedents and prescription opioid decedents in San Francisco from 2010 to 2012. During this time period, 331 individuals died from accidental overdose caused by opioids (310 involving prescription opioids and 31 involving heroin). Deaths most commonly involved methadone (45.9%), morphine (26.9%), and oxycodone (21.8%). Most deaths also involved other substances (74.9%), most commonly cocaine (35.3%), benzodiazepines (27.5%), antidepressants (22.7%), and alcohol (19.6%). Deaths were concentrated in a small, high-poverty, central area of San Francisco and disproportionately affected African-American individuals. Decedents in high-poverty areas were significantly more likely to die from methadone and cocaine, whereas individuals from more affluent areas were more likely die from oxycodone and benzodiazepines. Heroin decedents were more likely to be within a younger age demographic, die in public spaces, and have illicit substances rather than other prescription opioids. Overall, heroin overdose death, previously common in San Francisco, is now rare. Prescription opioid overdose has emerged as a significant concern, particularly among individuals in high-poverty areas. Deaths in poor and affluent regions involve different causative opioids and co-occurring substances.
Project description:BackgroundOverdose deaths have increased dramatically in the United States and are often attributed to prescription opioids. This study presents a framework for “overdose typologies”, including non-medical prescription drug use, to more accurately describe drug use patterns.MethodsThis study examined linked prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and toxicology data (2016–2018) from accidental overdose deaths from a large metropolitan coroner’s office in the Midwest (Indianapolis, Indiana).ResultsIn total, 1,112 accidental overdose deaths occurred and over two-thirds (68.0%; n = 756) were coded as an illicit drug user with no prescription opioid present in the toxicology. The most infrequent categories were prescription opioid users 5.5% (n = 61).ConclusionLinked PDMP and toxicology reports are useful in identifying drug use patterns that contribute to mortality.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Opioid overdose deaths quintupled in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016. Potentially inappropriate opioid prescribing practices (PIP) are associated with increases in overdoses. The purpose of this study was to conduct spatial epidemiological analyses of novel comprehensively linked data to identify overdose and PIP hotspots. METHODS:Sixteen administrative datasets, including prescription monitoring, medical claims, vital statistics, and medical examiner data, covering >98% of Massachusetts residents between 2011-2015, were linked in 2017 to better investigate the opioid epidemic. PIP was defined by six measures: ?100 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs), co-prescription of benzodiazepines and opioids, cash purchases of opioid prescriptions, opioid prescriptions without a recorded pain diagnosis, and opioid prescriptions through multiple prescribers or pharmacies. Using spatial autocorrelation and cluster analyses, overdose and PIP hotspots were identified among 538 ZIP codes. RESULTS:More than half of the adult population (n?=?3,143,817, ages 18 and older) were prescribed opioids. Nearly all ZIP codes showed increasing rates of overdose over time. Overdose clusters were identified in Worcester, Northampton, Lee/Tyringham, Wareham/Bourne, Lynn, and Revere/Chelsea (Getis-Ord Gi*; p?<?0.05). Large PIP clusters for ?100 MMEs and prescription without pain diagnosis were identified in Western Massachusetts; and smaller clusters for multiple prescribers in Nantucket, Berkshire, and Hampden Counties (p?<?0.05). Co-prescriptions and cash payment clusters were localized and nearly identical (p?<?0.05). Overlap in PIP and overdose clusters was identified in Cape Cod and Berkshire County. However, we also found contradictory patterns in overdose and PIP hotspots. CONCLUSIONS:Overdose and PIP hotspots were identified, as well as regions where the two overlapped, and where they diverged. Results indicate that PIP clustering alone does not explain overdose clustering patterns. Our findings can inform public health policy decisions at the local level, which include a focus on PIP and misuse of heroin and fentanyl that aim to curb opioid overdoses.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Fentanyl-contaminated opioid supplies have led to rising overdose fatalities in recent years. We compared beliefs, behaviors, and risk perceptions related to fentanyl with actual toxicology reports among people who used opioids. METHOD:Participants (n=231) were patients undergoing short-term inpatient opioid withdrawal management in Fall River, Massachusetts. We compared persons testing positive and negative for fentanyl on urine toxicological testing at program entry. RESULTS:Nearly all (95.7%) participants believed that fentanyl increases risk for overdose/death, and 86.6% of participants tested positive for fentanyl. Positive fentanyl toxicology test results were associated with lower educational attainment, history of injection drug use, and self-reported lifetime use of fentanyl. Of those reporting they had never been exposed to fentanyl (intentionally or unintentionally) (n=33), two-thirds tested positive for fentanyl; among those believing their tests would be negative (n=49), 71.4% tested positive for fentanyl. Heroin use was associated with fentanyl exposure; persons who reported past month heroin use (n=213) were more likely to test positive for fentanyl (91.1%) than persons using non-heroin opioids (n=18; 33.3%). CONCLUSIONS:Nearly nine in ten participants tested positive for fentanyl, including participants who anticipated their tests would be negative. Leveraging toxicology results in opioid withdrawal settings may be helpful in educating patients about fentanyl exposure and risks.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Homeless persons experience excess mortality, but US-based studies on this topic are outdated or lack information about causes of death. To our knowledge, no studies have examined shifts in causes of death for this population over time. METHODS:We assessed all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates in a cohort of 28 033 adults 18 years or older who were seen at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2008. Deaths were identified through probabilistic linkage to the Massachusetts death occurrence files. We compared mortality rates in this cohort with rates in the 2003-2008 Massachusetts population and a 1988-1993 cohort of homeless adults in Boston using standardized rate ratios with 95% confidence intervals. RESULTS:A total of 1302 deaths occurred during 90 450 person-years of observation. Drug overdose (n = 219), cancer (n = 206), and heart disease (n = 203) were the major causes of death. Drug overdose accounted for one-third of deaths among adults younger than 45 years. Opioids were implicated in 81% of overdose deaths. Mortality rates were higher among whites than nonwhites. Compared with Massachusetts adults, mortality disparities were most pronounced among younger individuals, with rates about 9-fold higher in 25- to 44-year-olds and 4.5-fold higher in 45- to 64-year-olds. In comparison with 1988-1993 rates, reductions in deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were offset by 3- and 2-fold increases in deaths owing to drug overdose and psychoactive substance use disorders, resulting in no significant difference in overall mortality. CONCLUSIONS:The all-cause mortality rate among homeless adults in Boston remains high and unchanged since 1988 to 1993 despite a major interim expansion in clinical services. Drug overdose has replaced HIV as the emerging epidemic. Interventions to reduce mortality in this population should include behavioral health integration into primary medical care, public health initiatives to prevent and reverse drug overdose, and social policy measures to end homelessness.
Project description:Highlights • Trends identified in rates of fatal opioid overdose, including by region.• In general, semisynthetic and synthetic overdose rates were more elastic.• Potential implications to policy change associated with synthetic opioid use. Opioid overdose fatalities include deaths from natural opioids (morphine and codeine), semi-synthetic opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone), synthetic opioids (prescription and illicit fentanyl, tramadol), methadone, and heroin. From 1999 to 2017, there were 702,568 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., with 399,230 attributed to opioids. This study aimed to assess the dynamics of opioid related fatalities throughout the U.S. from 2006-2016. This study is a secondary analysis of data obtained through the Kaiser Family Foundation's analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 1999-2016. The data obtained were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 272,130 individuals were included in the analysis. This represents the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States from 2006-2016. Descriptive analysis of overall rates was conducted and mapped for visualization. Novel predictive models of increase for each drug overdose category were developed and used to calculate rate changes. Finally, the elasticity of change in rate for each drug category was calculated annually for the past 11 years. The highest rate of opioid overdose-related death occurred in West Virginia (40.03 per 100,000). In our secondary analysis, we explored the change in the rate of opioid-related deaths from 2015 to 2016. The changing dynamics of fatal opioid overdose at the state level is critical to guiding policy makers in addressing this crisis. Rates of fatal opioid overdose vary across the states, but we identify some trends. Regional differences are identified in states with the highest overdose rates from all opioids combined.
Project description:BACKGROUND:US opioid overdose deaths continue to climb, with a 12.0% increase from 2016 to 2017. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been a major contributor to opioid-related overdose deaths. While fentanyl-related overdose is driven by illicit fentanyl, little is known about individuals who misuse prescription fentanyl, which is also linked to elevated overdose and mortality risk. This work aimed to fill that gap through analyses of prescription fentanyl misuse correlates. METHODS:Data were from the 2015-16 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (N?=?114,043), a nationally representative survey of the non-institutionalized US population. Respondents were (all past-year): those misusing prescription fentanyl (PF); those misusing other (non-fentanyl) prescription opioids (NFPO); and population controls. Respondent groups were compared using multinomial regression on sociodemographics, physical health, mental health and substance use. The PF and NFPO misuse groups were compared on opioid misuse characteristics, using logistic regression. RESULTS:An estimated 4.4% misused NFPO, and 0.1% misused PF (past-year). Past-year heroin use was more common in those who misused PF (44.3%) than those who misused other NFPO (4.4%; relative risk ratio [RRR]?=?7.1, 95%CI?=?3.7-13.9) or population controls (0.1%, RRR?=?35.1, 95%CI?=?17.3-71.1). Non-alcohol substance use disorder (SUD) was similarly elevated in those who misused PF (78.7%) versus the other NFPO group (27.5%, RRR?=?3.8, 95%CI?=?1.8-8.2) or population controls (1.6%, RRR?=?20.6, 95%CI?=?9.4-45.5). CONCLUSIONS:Respondents who misused prescription fentanyl were both more drug-involved generally and opioid-involved specifically; and likely need a combination of significant interventions and monitoring for their polysubstance use.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Medical care, public health, and criminal justice systems encounters could serve as touchpoints to identify and intervene with individuals at high-risk of opioid overdose death. The relative risk of opioid overdose death and proportion of deaths that could be averted at such touchpoints are unknown. METHODS:We used 8 individually linked data sets from Massachusetts government agencies to perform a retrospective cohort study of Massachusetts residents ages 11 and older. For each month in 2014, we identified past 12-month exposure to 4 opioid prescription touchpoints (high dosage, benzodiazepine co-prescribing, multiple prescribers, or multiple pharmacies) and 4 critical encounter touchpoints (opioid detoxification, nonfatal opioid overdose, injection-related infection, and release from incarceration). The outcome was opioid overdose death. We calculated Standardized Mortality Ratios (SMRs) and Population Attributable Fractions (PAFs) associated with touchpoint exposure. RESULTS:The cohort consisted of 6,717,390 person-years of follow-up with 1315 opioid overdose deaths. We identified past 12-month exposure to any touchpoint in 2.7% of person-months and for 51.8% of opioid overdose deaths. Opioid overdose SMRs were 12.6 (95% CI: 11.1, 14.1) for opioid prescription and 68.4 (95% CI: 62.4, 74.5) for critical encounter touchpoints. Fatal opioid overdose PAFs were 0.19 (95% CI: 0.17, 0.21) for opioid prescription and 0.37 (95% CI: 0.34, 0.39) for critical encounter touchpoints. CONCLUSIONS:Using public health data, we found eight candidate touchpoints were associated with increased risk of fatal opioid overdose, and collectively identified more than half of opioid overdose decedents. These touchpoints are potential targets for development of overdose prevention interventions.