Illicit Use of Pharmaceutical Opioids Among Young Polydrug Users in Ohio

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This study, conducted in Columbus, Ohio, identified the predictors of current (past 30 day) illicit use of pharmaceutical opioids among young individuals (n = 402) with a history of MDMA/ecstasy use who were recruited in 2002–2003 using respondent-driven sampling. To be eligible, participants had to be 18–30 years old, not involved in a drug abuse treatment, and report MDMA/ecstasy use at least once in the past 6 months. About 81% reported lifetime, and more than 31% reported current illicit use of pharmaceutical opioids. Logistic regression analysis revealed that illicit use of pharmaceutical tranquilizers and pharmaceutical stimulants were the strongest predictors of illicit use of pharmaceutical opioids. Risk of pharmaceutical opioid use was also greater among those who had higher levels of depressive symptoms and reported current use of hallucinogens and inhalants. Our findings suggest that the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids is a part of polydrug use practices that often incorporate illicit use of other prescription drugs. The observed relationship between depressive symptoms and illicit use of pharmaceutical opioids may have important implications for prevention programming and should be examined in future research.