BACKGROUND: To better understand overdose (OD) risk and develop tailored overdose risk interventions, we surveyed 234 opioid-using veterans residing in New York City, 2014-2017. Our aim was to better understand how predictors of OD may be associated with physical and mental health challenges, including pain severity and interference, depression and suicidal ideation over time.
METHODS: Veterans completed monthly assessments of the Overdose Risk Behavior Scale (ORBS), pain severity and interference, suicidal ideation, and depression for up to two years and were assessed an average of 14 times over 611 days. To estimate between-person and within-person associations between time-varying covariates and opioid risk behavior, mixed-effects regression was used on the 145-person subsample of veterans completing the baseline and at least three follow-up assessments.
RESULTS: The level of each time-varying covariate at the average of study time (between-person effect) was positively related to ORBS for pain severity and interference, suicidal ideation, and depression. Deviations from individuals’ personal trajectories (within-person effect) were positively related to ORBS for pain severity and interference, suicidal ideation, and depression.
CONCLUSIONS: US military veterans endure physical and mental health challenges elevating risk for opioid-related overdose. When pain severity, pain interference, suicidal ideation and depression were higher than usual, opioid risk behavior was higher. Conversely, when these health issues were less of a problem than usual, opioid risk behavior was lower. Assessing the physical and mental health of opioid-using veterans over time may support the development and implementation of interventions to reduce behaviors that increase the likelihood of overdose.
Between- and within-person associations between opioid overdose risk and depression, suicidal ideation, pain severity, and pain interference
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 206, 107734. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107734. PMCID: PMC6980716.