Online Program

Recent experiences of opioid overdose in a community-based sample of post-9/11 US veterans

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Enrique R. Pouget, PhD, Institute for Infectious Disease Research, National Development and Research Institutes, New York, NY
Alex Bennett, PhD, Institute for Special Populations Research, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc, New York, NY
Luther Elliott, Ph.D., National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., New York, NY
Andrew Golub, PhD, Institute for Special Populations Research, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., Burlington, VT
Andrew Rosenblum, Ph.D., National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.
Peter Britton, Ph.D., VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY
Aims.To better understand opioid overdose fatality risks there is a need for a more comprehensive assessment of overdose events. Relatively little is known about recent overdose experiences among opioid-using veterans—particularly among those not connected to Veterans Affairs health services.

Methods.We used venue-based and chain referral sampling to recruit opioid-using veterans into an ongoing cohort study of veteran opioid misuse in New York City during 2014-2015. Of those who reported using prescription opioids or heroin in the last month, we asked on how many days they experienced overdose signs and symptoms, using a 7-item Recent Experiences of Overdose Scale we developed for the study. We assessed scale reliability using Cronbach’s alpha.

Results.Preliminary data from 129 opioid-using veterans were available for analysis. Average age was 37 years (range = 21 - 59); 81% were male; 21% reported Hispanic ethnicity; 74% reported Black/African American race, and 19% reported white race. Overall, 32% experienced one or more overdose symptoms on one or more days in the last month after taking opioids; 19% perceived that they “overdosed” (were more sedated or high than they wanted to be); 22% reported others were concerned they may have overdosed; 9% experienced difficulty breathing; 12% collapsed (fell down), 9% lost consciousness; 19% called or had someone else call for assistance; and 2% used or had someone else use naloxone to reverse the opioid effects. Cronbach’s alpha revealed consistency among the items (alpha = 0.84).

Conclusions. Our novel overdose experience scale showed good internal reliability. Signs and symptoms of recent overdose are relatively common among veterans who use opioids. To prevent fatal overdose it is crucial to better understand determinants of overdose experiences. We plan to study associations of overdose  experiences with changes in physiological, psychological and social/structural factors over the 2-year course of the study.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the frequency of recent overdose signs and symptoms among a community-based sample of veterans of recent US military conflicts who use opioids.

Keyword(s): Veterans' Health, Drug Abuse Prevention and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Alex S. Bennett is a Principal Investigator at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) in NYC. His current NIDA funded study, “Opioid Misuse and Overdose Risk Patterns among Recent Veterans” utilizes a longitudinal mixed-methods approach to help determine the environmental, structural, physiological, and psychosocial aspects of opioid use and overdose risk. He has also received a supplemental grant to train veterans in overdose prevention and response and naloxone/Narcan™ administration.
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.