Needles in the Haystacks: The Social Context of Initiation to Heroin Injection in Rural Ohio

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Although there has been much research on the social context of heroin injection, little has been reported outside of major urban areas. This article examines contextual factors associated with initiation to heroin injection in rural Ohio, based on semistructured qualitative interviews and focus groups involving 25 recent heroin injectors (12 women, 13 men) recruited from three contiguous counties between June 2002 and February 2004. Curiosity about the drug's effects, the growing pressures of drug dependence and economic need, and the influence of intimate and group relations were all identified as factors that offset fears commonly associated with injection. This study complements other research on the social ecology of heroin injection and may contribute to improved services for injection drug users in rural areas and small communities.