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The characteristics of a cohort who tamper with prescribed and diverted opioid medications

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 12:18 authored by Larance, B, Lintzeris, N, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno, Amy PeacockAmy Peacock, Cama, E, Ali, R, Kihas, I, Hordern, A, White, N, Degenhardt, L
Aims: To describe the methods and baseline characteristics of a cohort of people who tamper with pharmaceutical opioids, formed to examine changes in opioid use following introduction of Reformulated OxyContin®.

Methods: Participants were 606 people from three Australian jurisdictions who reported past month injecting, snorting, chewing or smoking of a pharmaceutical opioid and had engaged in these practices at least monthly in the past 6 months. Baseline interviews were conducted prior to introduction of Reformulated OxyContin® in April 2014. Patterns of opioid use and cohort characteristics were examined according to whether participants were prescribed opioid medications, or exclusively used diverted medication./p>

Results: TThe cohort reported high levels of moderate/severe depression (61%), moderate/severe anxiety (43%), post-traumatic stress disorder (42%), chronic pain or disability (past 6 months, 54%) and pain (past month, 47%). Lifetime use of oxycodone, morphine, opioid substitution medications and codeine were common. Three-quarters (77%) reported ICD-10 lifetime pharmaceutical opioid dependence and 40% current heroin dependence. Thirteen percent reported past year overdose, and 70% reported at least one past month opioid injection-related injury or disease. The cohort displayed complex clinical profiles, but participants currently receiving opioid substitution therapy who were also prescribed other opioids particularly reported a wide range of risk behaviors, despite their health service engagement.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the heterogeneity in the patterns and clinical correlates of opioid use among people who tamper with pharmaceutical opioids. Targeted health interventions are essential to reduce the associated harms.


Publication title

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment








School of Psychological Sciences


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

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The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

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Copyright © 2015 Elsevier

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