247125 Heroin cessation strategies: What do former users say?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Danielle C. Ompad, PhD , Supportive Children's Advocacy Network, c/o HCAP, Harlem Community & Academic Partnership, New York, NY
Shannon Blaney, MPH , Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Ebele O. Benjamin, MPH , Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Linda Weiss, PhD , Center for Evaluation and Applied Research, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
David Vlahov, PhD , Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY
Considerable literature has been devoted to short-term heroin cessation, primarily as related to treatment and incarceration. Some dated information describes spontaneous recovery from heroin. Data are sparse on the correlates of sustained heroin cessation, particularly in street-recruited samples. We explored self-reported tools and strategies that supported sustained cessation among 151 former heroin users. The sample was 34.4% female, 57.0% black, 36.4% Hispanic and the mean age was 46.2 (SD=7.8). On average, participants had not used heroin in 2.5 years (SD=1.3, range=0.3-5.4), their “duration” of heroin use (age at last use – age at first use) was 44.1 years (SD=7.9, range=26.8-62.1); 76.8% reported heroin as their lifetime drug of choice. When asked what was most important tool or strategy used to quit, 58.9% said they made a conscious decision to quit; other quit strategies included help from a family member (9.3%), methadone (4.6%), unspecified drug treatment (4.0%), marijuana use (4.0%), going cold turkey (3.3%), crack/cocaine use (3.2%) and help from a friend (2.6%) or acquaintance (2.7%). About half (54.3%) reported using a pharmaceutical-based therapy during their most recent cessation attempt of whom 81.7% found it helpful; opiate replacement therapies (ORT) were most common (methadone-95.1%, buprenorphine-12.2%, and LAAM-1.2%). These preliminary data suggest that internal motivation is an important strategy for heroin cessation. Further, ORT was common but not ubiquitous in this sample of former heroin users and was not the most important cessation strategy for most. More research is needed to understand effective quit strategies among those who have sustained cessation.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this presentation, the listener will be able to: 1. Discuss the literature related to heoin cessation. 2. Describe strategies and tools that former heroin users found helpful in quitting heroin use.

Keywords: Other Drugs, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD-level epidemiologist and am a co-investigator on the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.