The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4089.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - Board 9

Abstract #43979

Reasons why some heroin sniffers do not progress to injection

Dale D. Chitwood, PhD, Jesus Sanchez, PhD, and Mary Comerford, MSPH. Sociology Research Center, University of Miami, 5665 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33146, 305-284-6176,

PURPOSE: To clarify the reasons involved in heroin users’ decisions to initiate or abstain from injection drug use. METHODS: As part of a structured interview 300 heroin injectors responded to a list of 15 reasons for initiating injection e.g., “encouragement from family to inject,” physical health problems,” and “curiosity.” An additional 300 heroin sniffers who never had injected a drug responded to a list of 18 reasons for not initiating injection e.g., “pressure from friends not to inject,” “fear of getting arrested,” and “fear of getting HIV/AIDS.” Interviewees ranked the importance of each reason on a five-point scale ranging from “very important” to “very unimportant.” Factor analysis using varimax rotation was used to identify underlying factors among each group. RESULTS: Five underlying factors, which accounted for 59% of the variance, were identified for the initiation of injection: desire to participate in injection lifestyle, curiosity, emotional or physical health problems, family involvement, and social rewards. Two underlying factors, which accounted for 66% of the variance, were identified for not initiating injection: a psychosocial dimension, which reflects fear of social consequences and disapproval of family and friends and a physical dimension which includes the fear of HIV/AIDS and other injection-related diseases. CONCLUSION: Transition from non-injection to injection drug use is more complex than a biochemical model of the natural progression of a drug use career would suggest. Malleable psychosocial and physical factors that influence the initiation decision to inject or not inject have implications for drug treatment and HIV prevention programs.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Injecting Drug Use, Drug Abuse Treatment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Special Populations and Substance Abuse Poster Session II

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA