Low perception of risk is a risk factor for heroin use. Research is needed to determine whether this risk factor for heroin use is affected by the use of other drugs. Data were analyzed from participants in the 2015/2016 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health who denied lifetime heroin use (N=110,102). We examined how recency of use of various drugs and number of drugs used relate to perceptions that using heroin is not a great risk. Results from multivariable models suggest that no lifetime drug use, and recent prescription opioid misuse and methamphetamine use, in particular, were associated with higher odds of perceiving that heroin use is not of great risk. Recent marijuana use was associated with lower odds of reporting that heroin use is not of great risk. Use of more drugs in one’s lifetime, past year, and/or past month tended to be associated with lower odds of reporting heroin use as not a great risk. Prevention experts should consider that recent prescription opioid misuse in particular is a risk factor for the lower perception of risk, while individuals reporting no lifetime drug use may also require better education regarding harms associated with heroin use.
Perceived risk of heroin in relation to other drug use in a representative US sample