MONDAY, Aug. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Methamphetamine and opioid co-users are more likely to have nonfatal overdoses compared with users of either drug alone, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in JAMA Network Open.

P. Todd Korthuis, M.D., from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues assessed the frequency with which methamphetamine and opioid use was associated with nonfatal overdose in rural communities in the United States. The analysis included 3,048 participants in the National Rural Opioid Initiative from 10 states who reported any past 30-day injection drug use or noninjection opioid use to get high (January 2018 through March 2020).

The researchers found that nonfatal overdose was greatest in people using both methamphetamine and opioids (22 percent) versus opioids alone (14 percent) or methamphetamine alone (6 percent). Co-use was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of nonfatal overdose versus opioid use alone (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.45) or methamphetamine use alone (aOR, 3.26). Those with co-use had a mean of 2.4 lifetime overdoses versus 1.7 among those using opioids alone (aOR, 1.20) and 1.1 among those using methamphetamine alone (aOR, 1.81). Co-users more often reported having tried and failed to access substance use treatment (44 percent versus 30 percent for methamphetamine alone and 36 percent for opioid alone). Among those using methamphetamine alone, only 17 percent had naloxone.

“These findings suggest that harm reduction and substance use disorder treatment interventions must address both methamphetamine and opioids to decrease overdose in rural communities,” the authors write.

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