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2.
Addict Behav ; 156: 108065, 2024 May 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38772226

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Previous reports have described variations in opioid overdose mortalities among different race/ethnicity groups. We have analyzed racial/ethnicity trends in opioid and polysubstance opioid overdose mortalities in adolescents and young adults to further characterize differences and potential sub-epidemics within this specific population. METHODS: We used mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) Multiple Cause of Death file from 1999 to 2020. Drug overdose mortalities were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes. Joinpoint regression was used to examine mortality rates for all opioids, opioids with a stimulant, opioids with benzodiazepines, and opioids with alcohol among racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, non-Hispanic other) in adolescents and young adults. RESULTS: The Average Annual Percent Change (AAPC) for mortality due to opioid and polysubstance opioid overdose increased for all racial/ethnic groups where data was available for analysis from 1999 to 2020. For mortality due to any opioid and any opioid with a stimulant, the greatest AAPC was seen among non-Hispanic Blacks. CONCLUSIONS: Unprecedented increases in mortality due to opioid overdose occurred in the last two decades among adolescents and young adults. Heterogenous trends support the notion that the previously defined opioid overdose epidemic "waves" may not accurately depict the effects of the crisis in all race/ethnicity groups. Additionally, alarming increases in opioid-stimulant overdose mortality starting in 2012 further characterize the interrelated effects of the third and fourth waves.

5.
Vet Anaesth Analg ; 2024 Apr 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38772852

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To compare changes in oesophageal (T-Oeso) and rectal (T-Rec) temperature in dogs during general anaesthesia and premedicated with fentanyl, medetomidine-fentanyl or acepromazine-fentanyl. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, blind clinical study. ANIMALS: A total of 120 healthy dogs, aged 2-10 years and weighing 5-20 kg. METHODS: Dogs were randomly allocated to one of three groups. Animals of F group were premedicated with fentanyl (0.01 mg kg-1), MF group with medetomidine (0.005 mg kg-1) and fentanyl (0.01 mg kg-1) and AF group with acepromazine (0.01 mg kg-1) and fentanyl (0.01 mg kg-1). Anaesthesia was induced with propofol and maintained with isoflurane in oxygen-air mixture. Fentanyl was administered continuously (0.01 mg kg-1 hour-1). The T-Oeso, T-Rec and ambient temperatures were recorded after induction (T0) and subsequently at 10 minute intervals for 60 minutes (T10-T60). Data were analysed using anova or their non-parametric equivalents (p < 0.05). RESULTS: Median T-Oeso was significantly higher in MF group between T0-T20 compared with other groups. Median T-Oeso significantly decreased in F group from 38.0 °C (T0) to 37.4 °C (T30), 37.1 °C (T40), 36.9 °C (T50) and 36.6 °C (T60), in MF group from 38.3 °C (T0) to 37.7 °C (T30), 37.5 °C (T40), 37.2 °C (T50) and 37.1 °C (T60) and in AF group from 37.7 °C (T0) to 37.3 °C (T40), 37.2 °C (T50) and 37.1 °C (T60). The T-Rec significantly decreased in F group from 38.0 °C (T0) to 37.4 °C (T40), 37.2 °C (T50) and 36.9 °C (T60), in MF group from 38.3 °C (T0) to 37.5 °C (T50) and 37.4 °C (T60) and in AF group from 38.2 °C (T0) to 37.6 °C (T40), 37.5 °C (T50) and 37.4 °C (T60). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Premedication with fentanyl, medetomidine-fentanyl or acepromazine-fentanyl in the doses used decreased the T-Oeso and T-Rec. The T-Oeso at the beginning of anaesthesia was higher after premedication with medetomidine-fentanyl. However, this difference was not clinically significant.

6.
Addiction ; 2024 May 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38775233

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Studies on cancer incidence and mortality among people with opioid use-related disorders are lacking. We aimed to measure cancer-specific incidence, mortality and survival among people diagnosed with opioid use-related disorders in Norway during 2010-18. DESIGN AND SETTING: This was a cohort study conducted in Norway during 2010-18. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals (n = 20 710) diagnosed with opioid use-related disorders. MEASUREMENTS: We conducted a cohort study utilizing a data-linkage of national health and population registers. Information on opioid use-related disorders was extracted from specialized healthcare, malignancies from the Cancer Registry of Norway and deaths from Cause of Death Registry. Cancer incidence and mortality were compared with the general population by calculating sex-specific age-standardized incidence (SIR) and mortality (SMR) ratios. One-year survival rates were computed. FINDINGS: Compared with the general population, people with opioid use-related disorders were at an increased risk of developing cancer overall [SIR = 1.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-1.3] with a higher than twofold cancer mortality rate (SMR = 2.3, 95% CI = 2.0-2.7). Excess risk was observed for liver (12.6, 95% CI = 9.1-17.0), larynx (4.7, 95% CI = 1.7-10.2), lung (3.5, 95% CI = 2.8-4.3) and pancreas cancer (2.6, 95% CI = 1.6-4.0), whereas reduced risk was found for melanoma (0.5, 95% CI = 0.3-0.9), breast (0.6, 95% CI = 0.4-0.9) and prostate cancers (0.3, 95% CI = 0.1-0.4). Site-specific SMRs were significantly elevated for liver (12.3, 95% CI = 8.5-17.2), lung (3.9, 95% CI = 3.0-5.0), pancreas (3.0, 95% CI = 1.7-4.8) and colon cancers (1.9, 95% CI = 1.1-3.1). The average 1-year survival rate after a cancer diagnosis was low in liver, pancreas and colon cancer, ranging from 10 to 15% less than that of the general population. CONCLUSIONS: In Norway, cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality appear to be elevated among individuals with opioid use-related disorders.

7.
J Stud Alcohol Drugs ; 2024 May 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38775307

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The opioid overdose crisis continues within the U.S., and the role of prescribed opioids and prescribing patterns in overdose deaths remains an important area of research. This study investigated patterns of prescription opioids dispensed in the 12 months prior to opioid-detected overdose death in Connecticut between May 8th, 2016 and January 2nd, 2018, considering differences by demographic characteristics. METHODS: The sample included decedents who had an opioid dispensed within 30 days preceding death. Using multilevel modeling, we estimated the slope of change in mean morphine equivalent (MME) daily dose over 12 months prior to death, considering linear and quadratic effects of time. We estimated the main effects of age, sex, race, and ethnicity and their interactions with time on MME. A sensitivity analysis examined how excluding decedents who did not receive long-term (≥90 days) opioid therapy affected mean MME slopes. Secondary analysis explored differences by toxicology results. RESULTS: Among 1,580 opioid-detected deaths, 179 decedents had prescribed opioids dispensed within 30 days preceding death. Decedents' mean age was 47.3 years (±11.5), 65.5% were male, 81% White non-Hispanic, 9.5% Black non-Hispanic, and 9.5% Hispanic. In the time-only model, linear (ß=6.25, p<0.01) and quadratic (ß=0.49, p=0.02) effects of time were positive, indicating exponentially increasing dose prior to death. Linear change in MME was significantly attenuated in men compared to women (ß=-4.87, p=0.03); however, men were more likely to have non-prescription opioids in their toxicology results (p=0.02). Sensitivity analysis results supported primary findings. CONCLUSION: Rapid dose increases in dispensed opioids may be associated with opioid-detected overdose deaths, especially among women.

8.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38775944

ABSTRACT

RATIONALE: Nicotine dependence is highly comorbid with opioid use disorders (OUDs). The use of nicotine-containing products increases the propensity to misuse prescription opioids and addressing both nicotine and opioid use simultaneously is more efficacious for treatment of OUDs than treating opioid use alone. OBJECTIVES: Given this extreme comorbidity, further elucidation of the effects of nicotine as a factor in promoting vulnerability to development of OUDs is needed. Here, we sought to further explore the effects of nicotine administration on operant self-administration of remifentanil (RMF), a fast-acting synthetic µ-opioid receptor agonist, using a heterogenous seeking-taking chain schedule of reinforcement in unpunished and punished conditions. METHODS: Male and female rats received nicotine (0.4 mg/kg) or saline prior to operant self-administration sessions. These sessions consisted of pressing a 'seeking' lever to gain access to a 'taking' lever that could be pressed for delivery of 3.2 µg/kg RMF. After acquisition, continued drug seeking/taking was punished through contingent delivery of foot-shock. RESULTS: Nicotine, relative to saline, increased RMF consumption. Furthermore, nicotine treatment resulted in significantly higher seeking responses and cycles completed, and this effect became more pronounced during punished sessions as nicotine-treated rats suppressed RMF seeking significantly less than controls. Nicotine treatment functionally reduced the efficacy of foot-shock punishment as a deterrent of opioid-seeking. CONCLUSIONS: Nicotine administration enhanced both appetitive and consummatory responding for RMF and engendered a punishment-insensitive phenotype for RMF that was less impacted by contingent administration of foot-shock punishment. These findings provide further support for the hypothesis that nicotine augments vulnerability for addiction-like behaviors for opioids.

9.
Scand J Prim Health Care ; : 1-7, 2024 May 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38722269

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: People with current or previous drug use (PCPDU) often lack long-term healthcare contacts in primary healthcare (PHC). While international research has shown negative attitudes toward PCPDU in healthcare, PHC professionals' attitudes toward PCPDU have not been assessed in Sweden. The aim of this study was to investigate PHC professionals' attitudes to PCPDU, and to compare attitudes toward people who actively use illicit drugs with those toward patients in opioid assisted treatment (OAT). DESIGN: In this survey study, respondents were asked for background data, and their attitudes toward patients using illicit drugs, OAT patients and patients with depression were assessed by using an adapted version of the Medical Condition Regard Scale (MCRS). SETTING AND SUBJECTS: Nurses and physicians at primary healthcare centers (PHCCs) in Skåne, Sweden. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean MCRS scores, dichotomized responses to MCRS items, and associations between MCRS score and background covariates (age, sex, profession and duration of professional experience). RESULTS: Eighty-nine PHC professionals from 13 PHCCs responded (approximately 39% of relevant workforce). The median MCRS score was 44 for patients with illicit drug use and patients in OAT, and 51 for patients with depression. Drug use and OAT displayed similar minimum, maximum and interquartile range values as well, while scores regarding depression displayed a higher minimum value and smaller spread. No significant associations were found between background covariates and MCRS scores for either drug use or OAT. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate widespread negative attitudes to PCPDU, with implications for health equity in the clinic. Further studies are needed to see if the results reflect attitudes in Swedish PHC in general.Key PointsPeople with current or previous drug use (PCPDU) often lack necessary primary healthcare (PHC) and are commonly subject to prejudice.Swedish PHC professionals held more negative attitudes toward PCPDU than toward patients with depression.Attitudes toward patients with active drug use and patients in opioid assisted treatment (OAT) were almost identical.Study findings have potential implications for the health of PCPDU as well as health equity in the clinic.Widespread negative attitudes to PCPDU in our sample indicate the need of larger-scale studies of attitudes toward PCPDU in Swedish PHC.

10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38722383

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Mu-opioid receptors (MORs) are widely expressed in the central nervous system (CNS), peripheral organs, and immune system. This study measured the whole body distribution of MORs in rhesus macaques using the MOR selective radioligand [11C]carfentanil ([11C]CFN) on the PennPET Explorer. Both baseline and blocking studies were conducted using either naloxone or GSK1521498 to measure the effect of the antagonists on MOR binding in both CNS and peripheral organs. METHODS: The PennPET Explorer was used for MOR total-body PET imaging in four rhesus macaques using [11C]CFN under baseline, naloxone pretreatment, and naloxone or GSK1521498 displacement conditions. Logan distribution volume ratio (DVR) was calculated by using a reference model to quantitate brain regions, and the standard uptake value ratios (SUVRs) were calculated for peripheral organs. The percent receptor occupancy (%RO) was calculated to establish the blocking effect of 0.14 mg/kg naloxone or GSK1521498. RESULTS: The %RO in MOR-abundant brain regions was 75-90% for naloxone and 72-84% for GSK1521498 in blocking studies. A higher than 90% of %RO were observed in cervical spinal cord for both naloxone and GSK1521498. It took approximately 4-6 min for naloxone or GSK1521498 to distribute to CNS and displace [11C]CFN from the MOR. A smaller effect was observed in heart wall in the naloxone and GSK1521498 blocking studies. CONCLUSION: [11C]CFN total-body PET scans could be a useful approach for studying mechanism of action of MOR drugs used in the treatment of acute and chronic opioid use disorder and their effect on the biodistribution of synthetic opioids such as CFN. GSK1521498 could be a potential naloxone alternative to reverse opioid overdose.

11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38722682

ABSTRACT

Myoclonus is a relatively rare involuntary movement that is often observed in palliative care settings and that can cause patient distress. The purpose of this study is to investigate the occurrence of myoclonus and countermeasures against it in terminally ill patients with cancer diagnosed by palliative care specialists at Komaki City Hospital, Japan. We retrospectively reviewed patients with terminal cancer who received palliative care consultations between January 2018 and May 2019 and who were diagnosed with myoclonus by palliative care specialists, using electronic medical records. Patient demographics, time from onset of myoclonus to death, daily opioid use, countermeasures, and outcome of myoclonus were assessed. Of 360 patients examined during this period, 45 (12.5%) were diagnosed with myoclonus. Median age was 71 (range, 43-88) years; median time from onset of myoclonus to death was 8 days (range, 0-56); opioid usage was present in 39 patients (morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl: n = 6, 21, and 12, respectively); and median oral morphine equivalent at onset of myoclonus was 60 mg (range, 12-336 mg). Myoclonus treatment was administered to 21 patients (opioid dose reduction, opioid switching, and others: n = 14, 3, and 4, respectively). Myoclonus is a common complication in patients with terminal cancer.

12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38722684

ABSTRACT

The Commercially Insured health Plan Risk Index for Overdose or Serious Opioid-induced Respiratory Depression (CIP-RIOSORD) is an evidence-based tool to determine serious opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD) or overdose risk. The CIP-RIOSORD total score determines a risk class and estimates the probability for an OIRD event within the next 6 months. We performed a single-center, retrospective analysis to determine CIP-RIOSORD baseline scores and the most common predictive factors in patients with cancer. Patients (n = 160) were split into new consultations (n = 83, Group 1) versus the first documented follow-up consultation (n = 77, Group 2). Most patients were Caucasian women with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer. CIP-RIOSORD scores for Group 1 patients were 14.8 ± 15.2 (mean ± SD, risk class 4). Group 2 patients had higher CIP-RIOSORD scores (16.6 ± 14.9, risk class 4). For Group 1, the most common CIP-RIOSORD predictive factors were use of a long-acting opioid formulation (n = 24, 29%) and daily oral morphine equivalent (OME) ≥100 (n = 20, 24%); for Group 2, predictive factors were use of an antidepressant (n = 34, 44%) and a long-acting opioid formulation (n = 27, 35%). Based on the CIP-RIOSORD, there is a 15% probability of experiencing a serious OIRD event or overdose within the next 6 months.

13.
Am J Emerg Med ; 81: 127-128, 2024 Apr 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38723364

ABSTRACT

Extended-release formulations of buprenorphine offer less frequent dosing, provide consistent medication delivery, and improve adherence for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Although buprenorphine is a partial agonist with seemingly less precipitated withdrawal and easier initiation than full opioid agonists used for OUD, its use is not benign and understanding of the different extended-release formulations is necessary. We report a case of a patient that received a long-acting buprenorphine formulation (Sublocade®) administered subcutaneously that presented to the emergency department with tachycardia, hyperglycemia, elevated anion gap, and sustained nausea and vomiting refractory to pharmacotherapy requiring surgical removal of the buprenorphine depot for resolution of nausea and vomiting symptoms.

14.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 260: 111320, 2024 Apr 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38723374

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: A single administration of the opioid receptor antagonist methocinnamox (MCAM) antagonizes the antinociceptive effects of µ-opioid receptor agonists for 2 weeks or longer. Such a long duration of antagonism could necessitate the use of nonopioid drugs for treating pain in patients receiving MCAM for opioid use disorder (OUD). METHODS: The antinociceptive effects of fentanyl and nonopioid drugs were assessed in 24 male Sprague Dawley rats using a complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) model of inflammatory pain. Twelve rats received 10mg/kg MCAM and 12 received vehicle; half (n=6) of the animals from each treatment group were treated (intraplantar) with CFA or saline. Hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation was measured using a von Frey anesthesiometer. Fentanyl (0.01-0.1mg/kg), ketamine (17.8-56mg/kg), gabapentin (32-100mg/kg), meloxicam (3.2-10mg/kg), and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, 1-10mg/kg) were administered intraperitoneally and tested every 3 days in a pseudorandom order. Next, the same drugs were studied for effects on motor performance using a rotarod apparatus. RESULTS: CFA-induced hypersensitivity was attenuated by fentanyl in vehicle- but not MCAM-treated rats. THC, ketamine, and gabapentin attenuated (up to 82, 66, and 46 %, respectively) CFA-evoked mechanical hypersensitivity in both MCAM- and vehicle-treated rats. Meloxicam failed to alter CFA-evoked mechanical hypersensitivity in either group. Fentanyl, THC, gabapentin, and meloxicam did not affect motor performance in either group whereas ketamine impaired motor performance in both groups (up to 71 % reduction in latency to fall). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that ketamine, gabapentin, and THC could be effective for treating inflammatory pain under conditions of long term µ-opioid receptor antagonism.

16.
Milbank Q ; 2024 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38725402

ABSTRACT

Policy Points Opioid treatment agreements (OTAs) are controversial because of the lack of evidence that their use reduces opioid-related harms and the potential risks they pose of stigmatizing patients and undermining the clinician-patient relationship. Even so, their use is now required in most jurisdictions, and their use is influencing the outcomes of civil and criminal lawsuits. More research is needed to evaluate how OTAs are implemented given existing requirements. If additional research does not resolve the current level of uncertainty regarding OTA benefits, then policymakers in jurisdictions where they are required should consider eliminating OTA mandates or providing flexibility in the legal requirements to make room for clinicians and health care institutions to implement best practices. CONTEXT: Opioid treatment agreements (OTAs) are documents that clinicians present to patients when prescribing opioids that describe the risks of opioids and specify requirements that patients must meet to receive their medication. Notwithstanding a lack of evidence that OTAs effectively mitigate opioids' risks, professional organizations recommend that they be implemented, and jurisdictions increasingly require them. We sought to identify the jurisdictions that require OTAs, how OTAs might affect the outcomes of lawsuits that arise when things go wrong, and instances in which the law permits flexibility for clinicians and health care institutions to adopt best practices. METHODS: We surveyed the laws and regulations of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to identify which jurisdictions require the use of OTAs, the circumstances in which OTA use is mandatory, and the terms OTAs must include (if any). We also surveyed criminal and civil judicial decisions in which OTAs were discussed as evidence on which a court relied to make its decision to determine how OTA use influences litigation outcomes. FINDINGS: Results show that a slight majority (27) of jurisdictions now require OTAs. With one exception, the jurisdictions' requirements for OTA use are triggered at least in part by long-term prescribing. There is otherwise substantial variation and flexibility within OTA requirements. Results also show that even in jurisdictions where OTA use is not required by statute or regulation, OTA use can inform courts' reasoning in lawsuits involving patients or clinicians. Sometimes, but not always, OTA use legally protects clinicians from liability. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that OTA use is entwined with legal obligations in various ways. Clinicians and health care institutions should identify ways for OTAs to enhance clinician-patient relationships and patient care within the bounds of relevant legal requirements and risks.

17.
J Palliat Med ; 2024 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38727545

ABSTRACT

The management of cancer-related pain in patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) remains complex and often challenging for clinicians and patients. There is currently a paucity of data to guide best practices, and the evidence that exists is variably applied. In this hospital-based questionnaire, we sought to understand the variation in practice patterns among clinicians in palliative medicine, addiction medicine, and hospital medicine, in caring for this complex patient population. Sixty-two questionnaire responses were analyzed and variation was found in management of pain, as well as initiation or titration of buprenorphine and methadone. There was also a significant difference in postdischarge subspecialty follow-up. Furthermore, the findings suggest that buprenorphine and methadone may be underutilized in this population. Patients and clinicians may benefit from additional support and standardization of practices to best manage coexisting cancer-related pain and OUD.

18.
Br J Pain ; 18(3): 227-242, 2024 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38751560

ABSTRACT

Background and objective: Chronic pain is associated with a poor health-related quality of life (HRQL). Whereas the prescription rate of opioids increased during the last decades, their use in chronic non-malignant pain remains unclear. However, there is currently no clinical consensus or evidence-based guidelines that consider the long-term effects of opioid therapy on HRQL in patients with chronic non-cancer pain. This systematic review aims to address the question of whether opioid therapy improves HRQL in patients with chronic non-malignant pain and provide some guidance to practitioners. Databases and data treatment: PubMed, EMBASE and CENTRAL were searched in June 2020 for double-blind, randomized trials (RCTs), comparing opioid therapy to placebo and assessed a HRQL questionnaire. The review comprises a qualitative vote counting approach and a meta-analysis of the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), EQ-5D questionnaire and the pain interference scale of the Brief pain inventory (BPI). Results: 35 RCTs were included, of which the majority reported a positive effect of opioids for the EQ-5D, the BPI and the physical component score (PCS) of the SF-36 compared to placebo. The meta-analysis of the PCS showed a mean difference of 1.82 [confidence interval: 1.32, 2.32], the meta-analysis of the EQ-5D proved a significant advantage of 0.06 [0.00, 0.12]. In the qualitative analysis of the mental component score (MCS) of the SF-36, no positive or negative trend was seen. No significant differences were seen in the MCS (MD: 0.65 [-0.43, 1.73]). A slightly higher premature dropout rate was found in the opioid group (risk difference: 0.04 [0.00, 0.07], p = .07). The body of evidence is graded as low to medium. Conclusion: Opioids have a statistically significant, but small and clinical not relevant effect on the physical dimensions of HRQL, whereas there is no effect on mental dimensions of HRQL in patients with chronic non-malignant pain during the initial months of treatment. In clinical practice, opioid prescriptions for chronic non-cancer pain should be individually assessed as their broad efficacy in improving quality of life is not confirmed. The duration of opioid treatment should be determined carefully, as this review primarily focuses on the initial months of therapy.

19.
Ann Pharmacother ; : 10600280241254528, 2024 May 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38755998

ABSTRACT

The removal of the X-waiver in the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act of 2023 has substantial implications for buprenorphine prescribing as one of the options to treat opioid use disorder. The purpose of this commentary is to discuss the unanswered questions regarding buprenorphine in the intensive care unit (ICU) including how the passage of the MAT Act will affect ICU providers, which patients should receive buprenorphine, what is the most appropriate route of administration and dose of buprenorphine, what medications interact with buprenorphine, and how can transitions of care be optimized for these patients.

20.
Harm Reduct J ; 21(1): 92, 2024 May 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38734643

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Mortality related to opioid overdose in the U.S. has risen sharply in the past decade. In California, opioid overdose death rates more than tripled from 2018 to 2021, and deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased more than seven times in those three years alone. Heightened attention to this crisis has attracted funding and programming opportunities for prevention and harm reduction interventions. Drug checking services offer people who use drugs the opportunity to test the chemical content of their own supply, but are not widely used in North America. We report on qualitative data from providers and clients of harm reduction and drug checking services, to explore how these services are used, experienced, and considered. METHODS: We conducted in-depth semi-structured key informant interviews across two samples of drug checking stakeholders: "clients" (individuals who use drugs and receive harm reduction services) and "providers" (subject matter experts and those providing clinical and harm reduction services to people who use drugs). Provider interviews were conducted via Zoom from June-November, 2022. Client interviews were conducted in person in San Francisco over a one-week period in November 2022. Data were analyzed following the tenets of thematic analysis. RESULTS: We found that the value of drug checking includes but extends well beyond overdose prevention. Participants discussed ways that drug checking can fill a regulatory vacuum, serve as a tool of informal market regulation at the community level, and empower public health surveillance systems and clinical response. We present our findings within three key themes: (1) the role of drug checking in overdose prevention; (2) benefits to the overall agency, health, and wellbeing of people who use drugs; and (3) impacts of drug checking services at the community and systems levels. CONCLUSION: This study contributes to growing evidence of the effectiveness of drug checking services in mitigating risks associated with substance use, including overdose, through enabling people who use and sell drugs to test their own supply. It further contributes to discussions around the utility of drug checking and harm reduction, in order to inform legislation and funding allocation.


Subject(s)
Harm Reduction , Humans , Female , Qualitative Research , Male , Opiate Overdose/prevention & control , Adult , San Francisco , Drug Users , Opioid-Related Disorders/prevention & control , Drug Overdose/prevention & control
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