Drug and alcohol review 2017 03 20() doi 10.1111/dar.12474
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS
Indicators suggest an escalation in opioid use globally, with recent HIV outbreaks linked to non-medical pharmaceutical opioid (NMPO) use. Little is known about how young Australians engage in NMPO use.
DESIGN AND METHODS
During 2015, we conducted qualitative interviews with young people (16-29 years) who reported oral NMPO use at least twice in the past 90 days. The study included a sample of injecting (n = 14) and oral (n = 22) users. This paper focuses on the oral user group.
Most participants grew up in affluent areas of Sydney, reported few health problems, rarely accessed health or welfare services and had limited contact with police. NMPO use was part of a repertoire of drug use involving: (i) use to come down from stimulants; (ii) use in conjunction with cannabis and alcohol; and (iii) use by itself. Participants reported limiting their use in order to avoid stigma and dependence.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Results suggest culture of self-limiting NMPO use characterised by stable housing, disposable income and intimate friendship networks. Despite the adverse health outcomes observed in other settings, our data suggest that the patterns and meanings of NMPO use observed in this small sample may help explain the limited nature of problematic use among young Australians to date. Findings indicate a need for epidemiological data, including longitudinal data, to assess possible demographic shifts in NMPO use in Australia, and to address risk factors for dependence and transitions to injecting and heroin use in this population. [Dertadian GC, Dixon TC, Iversen J, Maher L. Self-limiting non-medical pharmaceutical opioid use among young people in Sydney, Australia: An exploratory study. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000].