Trends in heroin use and injection drug use among high school students in five urban school districts in the US (2005-2017)
Renee M Johnson, Denali Boon, Xinzi Wang, Lauren B Beach, Sherri-Chanelle Brighthaupt, Kristin E Schneider, Gregory Phillips 2nd
Background. We describe the prevalence of and changes in heroin use and injection drug use (IDU) among high school students in five large, urban school districts in the US (2005-2017); nearly three-fourths of the students were Black and/or Hispanic/Latino.
Methods. Data are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Youth Risk Behavior Survey" program, which includes biennial surveys in urban school districts. We pooled data across districts and survey years, and then generated weighted prevalence estimates (and 95% CIs) for any lifetime heroin use and IDU. Joinpoint regression modeling was used to estimate changes in prevalence over the study period.
Results. Biennial prevalence estimates (2005-2017) for heroin use and IDU were above 1.8% for all seven timepoints. In 2017, prevalence of heroin use and IDU were 2.9% and 2.5%, respectively. Both heroin use and IDU were higher among boys than girls. There were statistically significant increases in heroin use and IDU among girls from 2005-2009, whereas changes over time were stable among boys.
Conclusions. High school students in large, urban school districts may have higher rates of heroin use and IDU than US high school students in general, and there is little evidence of increases since 2009. This study suggests that adolescence may be a critical period for initiation of heroin use among adolescents in large urban school districts, the majority of whom are Black and/or Latino.
Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2021.1992327.