Self-reported use of NPS in the United States from 2007–14: trends in prevalence and user characteristics from the national surveys on drug use and health

Abstract

There has been an increasing interest in characterising the prevalence of NPS use in recent years; nevertheless, trends in prevalence and user characteristics have been limited, at best. NPS have been of particular interest as they have emerged as a new problem in the drug landscape and have been subject to looser regulations than other substances. Using a nationally representative American survey, we examine life-time prevalence of NPS use among survey respondents from 2007-15 (n=307,935). Furthermore, we draw upon users’ socioeconomic, demographic, and self-reported health information to identify characteristics of typical NPS users. Finally, we focus on changes in NPS lifetime exposure before, during, and following the 2008 global financial crisis with an aim to better characterise the ways in which macroeconomic downturns may affect NPS use. We find that prevalence of lifetime exposure to NPS increases from 2007-15. In addition, from our data, NPS users tended to be male, white, Millennials, less wealthy, urban dwellers with poorer self-reported health. However, estimates of prevalence are quite low from the NSDUH, which does not focus explicitly on NPS use. As such, further study is needed in this area to more accurately characterise the true prevalence of NPS use and the characteristics of NPS users.

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Vienna, Austria
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Justin C. Yang
PhD Student in Public Health and Primary Care