Health, Polysubstance Use, and Criminal Justice Involvement Among Adults With Varying Levels of Opioid Use

Tyler N.A. Winkelman, Virginia W. Chang, Ingrid A. Binswanger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Importance: Health profiles and patterns of involvement in the criminal justice system among people with various levels of opioid use are poorly defined. Data are needed to inform a public health approach to the opioid epidemic. Objective: To examine the association between various levels of opioid use in the past year and physical and mental health, co-occurring substance use, and involvement in the criminal justice system. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective, cross-sectional analysis used the 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to assess the independent association of intensity of opioid use with health, co-occurring substance use, and involvement in the criminal justice system among US adults aged 18 to 64 years using multivariable logistic regression. Exposures: No opioid use vs prescription opioid use, misuse, or use disorder or heroin use. Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-reported physical and mental health, disability, co-occurring substance use, and past year and lifetime involvement in the criminal justice system. Results: The sample consisted of 78 976 respondents (42 495 women and 36 481 men), representative of 196 280 447 US adults. In the weighted sample, 124 026 842 adults reported no opioid use in the past year (63.2%; 95% CI, 62.6%-63.7%), 61 462 897 reported prescription opioid use in the past year (31.3%; 95% CI, 30.8%-31.8%), 8 439 889 reported prescription opioid misuse in the past year (4.3%; 95% CI, 4.1%-4.5%), 1 475 433 reported prescription opioid use disorder in the past year (0.8%; 95% CI, 0.7%-0.8%), and 875 386 reported heroin use in the past year (0.4%; 95% CI, 0.4%-0.5%). Individuals who reported any level of opioid use were significantly more likely than individuals who reported no opioid use to be white, have a low income, and report a chronic condition, disability, severe mental illness, or co-occurring drug use. History of involvement in the criminal justice system increased as intensity of opioid use increased (no use, 15.9% [19 562 158 of 123 319 911]; 95% CI, 15.4%-16.4%; prescription opioid use, 22.4% [13 712 162 of 61 204 541]; 95% CI, 21.7%-23.1%; prescription opioid misuse, 33.2% [2 793 391 of 8 410 638]; 95% CI, 30.9%-35.6%; prescription opioid use disorder, 51.7% [762 189 of 1 473 552]; 95% CI, 45.4%-58.0%; and heroin use, 76.8% [668 453 of 870 250]; 95% CI, 70.6%-82.1%). In adjusted models, any level of opioid use was associated with involvement in the criminal justice system in the past year compared with no opioid use. Conclusions and Relevance: Individuals who use opioids have complicated health profiles and high levels of involvement in the criminal justice system. Combating the opioid epidemic will require public health interventions that involve criminal justice systems, as well as policies that reduce involvement in the criminal justice system among individuals with substance use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e180558
JournalJAMA network open
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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