Predictors and Prevention of Nonfatal Overdose Among Street-Recruited Injection Heroin Users in San Francisco Bay Area, 1998-1999

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 91, no. 11, Nov. 2001, p. 1842-1846

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Karen H. Seal, Alex H. Kral, Lauren Gee, Lisa D. Moore, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Jennifer Lorvick, Brian R. Edlin

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OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine prevalence of and risk factors for nonfatal recent overdose among street-recruited injection heroin users. METHODS: From August 1998 through July 1999, 1427 heroin injectors were recruited from 6 inner-city neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, Calif, and interviewed. Factors hypothesized to be associated with recent overdose were analyzed with logistic regression. RESULTS: Of the 1427 participants, 684 (48%) had had an overdose, 466 (33%) had experienced 2 or more overdose events, and 182 (13%) had had a recent overdose. In multiple logistic regression, being younger (adjusted odds ratio [OR] for each year of increasing age = 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.94, 0.97), having been arrested 3 or more times in the past year (adjusted OR = 2.50; 95% CI = 1.61, 3.87), drinking 4 or more alcoholic drinks per day (adjusted OR = 2.05; 95% CI = 1.37, 3.05), and having participated in methadone detoxification during the past year (adjusted OR = 1.47; 95% CI = 1.03, 2.09) were independently associated with recent overdose. Being homeless; identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; having spent 5 or more years in prison or jail; and having engaged in sex work also were associated with recent overdose. CONCLUSIONS: Targeted interventions that decrease risk for overdose are urgently needed.

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