Heroin and nonmedical prescription opioid use among high school students in urban school districts

Abenaa A. Jones, Kristin E. Schneider, Sherri Chanelle Brighthaupt, Julie K. Johnson, Sabriya L. Linton, Renee M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Research on adolescent heroin use has focused on national surveillance, access, prevalence of use, and overdose deaths, however, to our knowledge, no study has examined local-level differences in the prevalence of adolescent heroin use in the context of nonmedical prescription opioid (NMPO) use. This study characterizes heroin and NMPO use among US high school students in select urban areas by sex and race/ethnicity. Methods: Data are from 21 urban school districts that participate in CDC's Local Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. We describe 2017 prevalence estimates (and 95 % confidence intervals) of lifetime heroin and NMPO use among youth stratified by sex and race/ethnicity (i.e., White, Black, Hispanic/Latino). Results: The highest estimates of heroin use were in Baltimore, MD (7.6 %), Shelby County, TN (6.3 %), and Duval County, FL (6.1 %), whereas NMPO use was highest in Duval County, FL (18.1 %), Cleveland, OH (18.0 %), and Shelby County, TN (16.8 %). Heroin use was higher among boys than girls, especially among Hispanic/Latino boys in Duval County (12.3 %) and Black boys in Baltimore (10.9 %). NMPO use was highest among Hispanic/Latino girls (21.3 %) and White girls (19.9 %) in Duval County. Discussion: While some cities and subpopulations with high levels of adolescent heroin use also had elevated levels of NMPO use, others did not, illustrating the complexities of this opioid epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107664
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Adolescence
  • Gender
  • Heroin use
  • Opioids
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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