- Substance use among sexual minorities in the US – Linked to inequalities and unmet need for mental health treatment? Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)Journal of Psychiatric Research 2021
Background Sexual minorities (SM) have specific substance use patterns and show elevated rates of substance use and substance use disorders. We investigated the potential association between substance use - including chemsex drug use - among SM adults in the United States (US) and social inequality, with an additional focus on disparities in unmet need for mental health treatment. Methods A secondary cross-sectional data analysis was performed using National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data from 2015 to 2017 and including 126,463 individuals with 8241 identifying as SM. Multivariable logistic regression models were implemented to quantify disparities in substance use, to calculate the effect of sociodemographic variables on substance use, and to examine associations with socioeconomic vulnerability. Findings SM showed higher odds of past-year substance use and lifetime chemsex drug use. All SM except for bisexual men exhibited higher odds of past-month binge drinking relative to heterosexuals. Bisexual women had higher odds for use of all analysed substances relative to heterosexual women. Being older and being a woman were shown to be protective factors. Urbanity, being uninsured, and unmet need for mental health treatment were associated with significantly higher odds of substance use, chemsex drug use and binge drinking. A link was established between drug use and health indicators, with higher odds of drug use for lower health ratings. SM experienced significantly higher levels of socioeconomic vulnerability. Higher vulnerability indices were associated with increased odds for drug use. Interpretation This study is among the first nationally representative samples that analysed the link between sociodemographic factors and unmet need for mental health treatment and substance use in SM. It emphasises the multifactorial aetiology of substance use exposure, highlights the underlying mechanisms for substance use among SM while underscoring disparities among them. Approaches tailored to SM subgroups may be needed to address comorbidities and negative health outcomes of substance use in the long-term. However, critical gaps in the literature remain and large-scale studies inclusive of SM individuals are needed to present causal links. Funding: Gillings Fellowship SYOG054 to ARU.
- Responses among substance abuse treatment providers to the opioid epidemic in the USA: Variations in buprenorphine and methadone treatment by geography, operational, and payment characteristics, 2007-16PLOS ONE 2020
Objective To identify the geographic, organisational, and payment correlates of buprenorphine and methadone treatment among substance abuse treatment (SAT) providers. Methods Secondary analyses of the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (NSSATS) from 2007–16 were conducted. We provide bivariate descriptive statistics regarding substance abuse treatment services which offered buprenorphine and methadone treatment from 2007–16. Using multiple logistic regression, we regressed geographic, organisational, and payment correlates on buprenorphine and methadone treatment. Results Buprenorphine is increasingly offered at SAT facilities though uptake remains comparatively low outside of the northeast. SAT facilities run by tribal governments or Indian Health Service which offer buprenorphine remain low compared to privately operated SAT facilities (AOR = 0.528). The odds of offering buprenorphine among facilities offering free or no charge treatment (AOR = 0.838) or a sliding fee scale (AOR = 0.464) was lower. SAT facilities accepting Medicaid payments showed higher odds of offering methadone treatment (AOR = 2.035). Conclusions Greater attention towards the disparities in provision of opioid agonist therapies is warranted, especially towards the reasons why uptake has been moderate among civilian providers. Additionally, the care needs of Native Americans facing opioid-related use disorders bears further scrutiny.
- Lifetime prevalence of novel psychoactive substances use among adults in the USA: Sociodemographic, mental health and illicit drug use correlates. Evidence from a population-based survey 2007–2014Neicun, Jessica, Yang, Justin Christopher, Shih, Hueyjong, Nadella, Pranay, Kessel, Robin, Negri, Attilio, Czabanowska, Kasia, Brayne, Carol, and Roman-Urrestarazu, AndresPLOS ONE 2020
Introduction As Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are conceived to mimic the effects of common illicit drugs, they represent a serious public health challenge due to the spike in intoxications and fatalities that have been linked to their use. This study aims to provide epidemiological data on NPS use in the USA, determining lifetime prevalence of use and defining demographic, socioeconomic, drug use patterns and mental health correlates. Methods This study uses secondary data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which is a large cross-sectional population-based survey carried out annually in the USA. We analysed data from 2007–14 (N = 307,935) using bivariate descriptive analysis and binary logistic regression to calculate prevalence and determine factors underlying NPS consumption. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) with 95% CI’s were calculated for a set of selected independent variables. Results and discussion Our analysis NSDUH from 2007–14 highlights an increase in NPS use among adults, especially among white young men aged 18 to 25. Although the level of education of NPS users was relatively higher as compared to non-users, NPS users seemed to have a less wealthy situation. However, socioeconomic vulnerability appeared to be less important than mental health issues as a correlate to NPS use. NPS users seem to have followed a pattern of polysubstance use throughout their life, which involves both traditional illicit drugs and classic synthetic drugs. As NPS use seemed to be more prevalent among people having mental health issues, the rise in their use may have a negative impact on population mental health outcomes. Conclusion Further comparative research on trends in NPS use and potential public health responses would be instrumental for developing appropriate health interventions, including drug checking, education for users and training for healthcare professionals working both within emergency wards and in/outpatient addiction and mental health services.
- Opioid prescription patterns in Germany and the global opioid epidemic: Systematic review of available evidencePLOS ONE 2019
Introduction Opioids are one of the most important and effective drug classes in pain medicine with a key role in most medical fields. The increase of opioid prescription over time has led to higher numbers of prescription opioid misuse, abuse and opioid-related deaths in most developed OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries around the world. Whilst reliable data on the prevalence of opioid treatment is accessible for many countries, data on Germany specifically is still scarce. Considering Germany being the largest country in the European Union, the lack of evidence-based strategies from long-term studies is crucial. The aim of this work is to review and summarise relevant published literature on the prevalence of opioid prescription in Germany to adequately inform health policy strategies. Methods A systematic review of the epidemiology of opioid prescription in Germany was conducted, searching PubMed and Web of Science. Eligibility criteria were defined prior to conducting the search. Literature concerning Germany, published in English and German was included and the search was replicated by three independent researchers. Two levels of screening were employed. Disagreement was resolved by face-to-face discussion, leading to a consensus judgement. Results Our electronic search yielded 735 articles. Reviewing titles and abstracts yielded 19 relevant articles. Three authors examined each article’s full text more closely and determined that twelve papers should be included. Of the twelve identified studies—with publication dates ranging from 1985 to 2016—six were retrospective cross-sectional studies and six were retrospective repeated-measures cross-sectional studies. Sample sizes ranged from 92,842 to ≈ 11,000,000 participants. Data sources of included studies showed vast heterogeneity. The reviewed literature suggested an increase in the number of patients with opioid prescriptions and defined daily doses of opioids per recipient in Germany over time. The majority of opioid prescriptions was used for patients with non-cancer pain. Opioid use was more common in older people, women and in the north of Germany. Fentanyl was shown to be the most prescribed strong opioid in outpatient settings in Germany, despite not being the first-line choice for chronic pain conditions. All data published before 2000—but none of the more recent studies—suggested an insufficient treatment of pain using opioids. There were no signs for a current opioid epidemic in Germany. Conclusions Despite some limitations of the review and the heterogeneity of studies, it can be stated that the number of opioid prescriptions overall as well as the number of people receiving opioid treatment have increased over time. Most prescriptions were found to be for strong opioids and patients with non-cancer pain. Even though patterns of opioid prescription follow trends observed in other developed countries, there are no signs of an opioid epidemic in Germany. Therefore, this review could currently not find a need for urgent health policy interventions regarding opioid prescription practices. However, critical gaps in the literature remain and more research is needed to make more reliable judgements.
- Brexit threatens the UK’s ability to tackle illicit drugs and organised crime: What needs to happen now?Roman-Urrestarazu, Andres, Yang, Justin, Robertson, Roy, McCallum, Alison, Gray, Christina, McKee, Martin, and Middleton, JohnHealth Policy 2019
Background The decision by the UK government to leave the European Union comes at a time when parts of the UK are experiencing a marked rise in reported gun and knife crimes. The health effects of Brexit will have serious consequences as to how the UK tackles this upsurge in drug-related crime. Health policy processes The UK’s future participation with the EU’s specialised agencies will depend on the detail of any agreement reached on future collaboration with the EU and its drug agency, the EMCDDA. Context The EMCDDA provides the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support debates on drugs policies. It also supports early warning initiatives and coordinates measures at national and supranational levels with Europol and supranational enforcement agencies. Expected outcomes While these arrangements might continue throughout any transition period, those working within the sector require guidance and assurances from the British government about its long-term intentions after any transition. Conclusions The scale of collaboration between the UK and European institutions is extensive. It is not clear how this might be replicated after Brexit. Yet an alternative framework of collaboration between the UK and the EU is clearly needed to facilitate shared and agreed approaches to data sharing and drug surveillance after Brexit.
- Mapping novel psychoactive substances policy in the EU: The case of Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom and SwedenNeicun, Jessica, Steenhuizen, Marthe, Kessel, Robin, Yang, Justin C., Negri, Attilio, Czabanowska, Katarzyna, Corazza, Ornella, and Roman-Urrestarazu, AndresPLOS ONE 2019
Introduction The rapid rise in trade and use of NPS and the lack of information concerning their potential toxicity pose serious challenges to public health authorities across the world. Policy measures towards NPS taken so far have a special focus on their legal status, while the implementation of a public health strategy seems to be still missing. The aim of this study is to perform a general assessment of NPS-related policy (including regulatory measures and public health strategies) implemented by six European countries: Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Methods Six EU countries were included in this scoping review study. Drug policies (including legal responses and public health strategies) were analysed. UNODC drug policy classification system was used as a benchmark, while path dependency approach was used for data analysis; a net of inter-dependencies between international, EU and national policies was highlighted. Results and discussion The countries included in this study can be placed in a wide spectrum according to their formulation of drug policy, from Portugal and the UK that have specific legal responses to NPS but have differently focused on harm reduction strategies at one end, to Sweden whose drug-free society goal is not translated into a specific regulation of NPS at the other end. Conclusion The findings of the study reveal limited development towards harmonisation of national drug policies–particularly with regard to NPS. To tackle the challenge presented by NPS, EU Member states have formulated legislation and public health strategies independently. National approaches to NPS are therefore in line with their already existing drug policies, reflecting cultural values towards substance abuse and national political interests, while the homogenization at an international level has so far mostly been focused on law enforcement and drugs use preventive strategies.
- Demographic, socioeconomic, and health correlates of unmet need for mental health treatment in the United States, 2002–16: evidence from the national surveys on drug use and healthInternational Journal for Equity in Health 2019
Unmet need for mental health services remains high in the United States and is disproportionately concentrated in some groups. The scale and nature of these disparities have not been fully elucidated and bear further scrutiny. As such, in this study, we examine the demographic, socioeconomic, and health correlates of unmet need for mental health treatment as well as the reasons for unmet need.
- Differences in receipt of opioid agonist treatment and time to enter treatment for opioid use disorder among specialty addiction programs in the United States, 2014-17PLOS ONE 2019
Background Access to adequate treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) has been a high priority among American policymakers. Elucidation of the sociodemographic and institutional differences associated with the use, or lack thereof, of opioid agonist therapy (OAT) provides greater clarity on who receives OAT. Timely access to care is a further consideration and bears scrutiny as well. Methods We draw upon data from the Treatment Episode Data Set—Admissions (TEDS-A) to analyse the relationship between sociodemographic and institutional characteristics and the receipt of opioid agonist treatments and time waiting to enter treatment. Results Estimates from logistic regression models highlight certain groups which show lower odds of receipt of OAT, including those in precarious housing arrangements, those unemployed or not otherwise in the labor force, and those referred by drug abuse care providers, educational institutions, employers, and the criminal justice system. Groups which showed higher odds of waiting over a week to enter treatment included those who were separated, divorced, or widowed, those working part-time, and those referred by drug abuse care providers, employers, and the criminal justice system. Conclusion Given the efficacy of OAT and the adverse outcomes associated with long waiting times, coordinated effort is needed to understand why these differences persist and how they may be addressed through appropriate policy responses.
- Binge alcohol and substance use across birth cohorts and the global financial crisis in the United StatesPLOS ONE 2018
Background The social and economic consequences of the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2007–9 has had serious impacts on population health, economic prospects, and overall wellbeing in all generations, particularly Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The ways in which intergenerational inequality and global economic crises have affected population health, particularly with respect to excessive drinking and substance use in disadvantaged population groups has been understudied. Consequently, in this article, we seek to characterise the effects of the GFC on national trends in binge alcohol and substance use among Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. By doing so, we aim to contribute to a fuller understanding of the ways in which socioeconomic disadvantage engendered by the GFC has disparately affected the wellbeing of these generational cohorts. Methods and findings We present results from National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2007–16 to characterise binge alcohol and substance use among different generational cohorts in the United States during and after the GFC. Bivariate descriptive analysis and maximum-likelihood logit regressions focused on: (a) individual substances and binge drinking, (b) poly-use and (c) any use to simultaneously model how socioeconomic, demographic, and health characteristics were related to past-month substance use and to report the social, economic, and demographic correlates of substance use. Socioeconomic vulnerability was captured on a five-point scale comprised of: (1) health insurance status, (2) government assistance, (3) income, (4) self rated health, and (5) employment status. Millennials showed generally higher risk of binge alcohol and substance use during 2007–16 than Generation X, while Baby Boomers generally exhibited lower risk. Comparison of individual and poly-use patterns for the birth cohorts before and after reveals: Millennials were at significantly increased risk of use of binge alcohol (AOR = 1.51; 95% CI = 1.46–1.56), cocaine (AOR = 1.19; 95% CI = 1.03–1.37), heroin (AOR = 1.39; 95% CI = 1.01–1.91), and oxycontin (AOR = 2.33; 95% CI = 1.74–3.12) than Gen X while Baby Boomers were at significantly reduced risk of all substances. Nevertheless, Millennials were at significantly reduced risk of crack use (AOR = 0.33; 95% CI = 0.25–0.43) and poly-use (AOR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.45–0.70) compared to Gen X. These differences may be related to measures of austerity and socioeconomic vulnerability. Millennials exhibited the highest vulnerability related to austerity with an average vulnerability score of 0.97 (95% CI = 0.96–0.98) while Baby Boomers exhibited the lowest average vulnerability score of 0.65 (95% CI = 0.64–0.66) with Generation X in between with 0.72 (95% CI = 0.71–0.73). Increased social and economic vulnerability after the 2007 crisis is strongly associated with higher rates of substance use in all generations. Conclusion Millennials have been especially affected by socioeconomic changes associated with the GFC as reflected by their heightened vulnerability and increased use of binge alcohol and other substances compared to preceding generations. These findings suggest that attention is needed to address disparities in socioeconomic vulnerability, relationships to substance use and overall mental health of Millennials to mitigate the potential long term negative impacts of the GFC. In the context of a continuing international opioid and heroin crisis, the ways in which Millennials have been differentially affected warrants much greater attention both from policymakers and from researchers.
- Private health insurance in Germany and Chile: two stories of co-existence, segmentation and conflictRoman-Urrestarazu, Andres, Yang, Justin C., Ettelt, Stefanie, Thalmann, Inna, Seguel Ravest, Valeska, and Brayne, CarolInternational Journal for Equity in Health 2018
In Germany and Chile, substitutive private health insurance has been shaped by its co-existence with statutory social health insurance. Despite differences in the way choice is available to users in the health insurance regimes of Chile and Germany, the way in which each country has managed choice between private health insurance and statutory social health insurance provides a unique opportunity to comparatively assess the consequences of such an arrangement that has been previously underexamined.
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has a vital role in the UK’s ability to respond to illicit drugs and organised crimeRoman-Urrestarazu, Andres, Robertson, Roy, Yang, Justin, McCallum, Alison, Gray, Christina, McKee, Martin, and Middleton, JohnBMJ 2018
Much attention has been devoted to the consequences of the European Medicines Agency’s departure from London because of Brexit.12 Yet exclusion from other EU agencies, including the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), will also have serious consequences for public health in the United Kingdom.Founded in 1993 in Lisbon,3 the EMCDDA derives its mandate from Regulation (EC) No 1920/20063, which involves surveillance, establishing best practice, facilitating exchange of knowledge and data, providing leadership on new psychoactive substances, and assisting with policy making in countries and in the EU. By adopting certain “red lines,” including oversight by the Court of Justice of the European Union, the UK will exclude itself from full membership.34The EMCDDA has provided the EU and its member states with accurate and timely intelligence and evidence based overviews of the European drug landscape …
- Synthetic Cannabinoids, Opioids, and Polydrug UsePrilutskaya, Mariya, Yang, Justin C., and Roman-Urrestarazu, AndresIn Handbook of Novel Psychoactive Substances 2018
In Chapter 10, “Synthetic Cannabinoids, Opioids, and Polydrug Use: Clinical Implications”, Mariya Prilutskaya, Justin C. Yang, and Andres Roman-Urrestarazu discuss synthetic cannabinoids, opioids, and polydrug abuse and their implications for clinical management. They discuss the interaction of synthetic cannabinoids with other drugs in individuals with polydrug substance misuse disorder and how this might be an increasing problem in different clinical settings, especially during the management of withdrawal symptoms. They also discuss therapeutic and treatment possibilities, discussing in detail how this might be different to what has been provided to individuals with polysubstance misuse disorders.