Friday, September 13, 2019

Methamphetamine Involved in Rising Number of Heroin Treatment Admissions

Methamphetamine is involved in an increasing number of treatment admissions for heroin, especially among adolescents, a study in Addiction has found.

“The phenomenon of increasing methamphetamine use among people using opioids is of great concern,” Christopher M. Jones, Pharm.D., Dr.P.H., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and colleagues wrote. “Methamphetamine use carries its own risks, including a range of physical and mental health consequences such as psychosis and other mental disorders; cognitive and neurologic deficits; cardiovascular and renal dysfunction; transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections; and increased mortality.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 3.5 million treatment admissions for heroin between 2008 and 2017. The data came from the Treatment Episode Data Set, a national database that provides information on the admissions of people aged 12 years and older to federally funded substance use treatment centers. The percentage of primary heroin treatment admissions reporting methamphetamine use rose each year from 2.1% in 2008 to 12.4% in 2017, an increase of 490%.

In 2017, individuals aged 12 to 24 had the highest rates of admissions for heroin use involving methamphetamine of all the age groups examined: 27.8% of heroin treatment admissions for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years involved methamphetamine, and 17.4% of heroin treatment admissions for young adults aged 18 to 24 involved methamphetamine.

“Not only do these findings highlight a need to focus intervention and treatment efforts aimed at reaching younger age groups, but together with the finding that early age of heroin initiation was associated with methamphetamine use at treatment admission, these findings underscore the importance of expanding policies, programs, and practices that can prevent initiation of these substances in the first place,” the researchers wrote.

Among women, 15.1% of heroin treatment admissions involved methamphetamine in 2017, compared with 10.8% in men. The researchers noted that prior research suggests that females use more methamphetamine and transition from recreational use to dependence more quickly than males.

“Given the increase in risk for negative health outcomes among people using both substances, comprehensive prevention, treatment, and harm-reduction strategies that address the poly-substance nature of opioid use and are appropriately tailored to specific demographic groups and at-risk populations are needed,” Jones and colleagues wrote.

For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Use of Drug Treatment Services Among Adults With Opioid Use Disorder: Rates, Patterns, and Correlates.”

(Image: iStock/Chinnapong)

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