12.7 Percent of Adults Using Fentanyl or Heroin Report Ever Using Xylazine

More median nonfatal overdoses from any drug reported for IMF or heroin users reporting xylazine use versus those not reporting xylazine use

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 8, 2024 (HealthDay News) — A considerable proportion of adults reporting illegally manufactured fentanyl (IMF) or heroin use also use xylazine, according to research published in the July 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Xinyi Jiang, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues identified a convenience sample of U.S. adults aged 18 years and older from those evaluated for substance use treatment during July 2022 to September 2023. Data were obtained from the Addiction Severity Index-Multimedia Version clinical assessment tool.

The researchers found that 14.6 percent of the 43,947 adults reported IMF or heroin as their primary lifetime substance-use problem; 12.2 percent reported recent IMF or heroin use. Overall, 12.7 percent of those reporting IMF or heroin as their primary lifetime substance-use problem reported ever-use of xylazine. Recent xylazine use was reported by 8.3 percent of adults reporting recent IMF or heroin use. A median of two past nonfatal overdoses from any drug was reported among adults reporting IMF or heroin use recently or as their primary lifetime substance-use problem and who reported xylazine use, compared with a median of one overdose among those not reporting xylazine use. Higher percentages of individuals who reported xylazine use also had other recent substance use and polysubstance use.

“Broader interventions are needed to reduce stigma directed toward persons who use drugs and increase awareness of their treatment and service needs so that services can be accessed without judgment,” the authors write.

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