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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2004 Jan 7;73(1):61-7.

Social network correlates of self-reported non-fatal overdose.

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  • 1Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. clatkin@jhsph.edu


The leading cause of death among heroin users is drug overdose. The present study examined the relationship between history of self-reported drug overdoses and social network characteristics among cocaine and opiate users. Data were from cross-sectional surveys administered from March 2001 through February 2003 as part of follow-up of an experimental network oriented HIV prevention intervention. A total of 838 participants with histories of cocaine and opiate use completed the survey. Several social network variables were found to be significantly associated with drug overdose in the prior 2 years, including larger number of network members who were injection drug users and a larger number of conflictual ties among the network members. Even after controlling for age, gender, frequency of injection drug and alcohol use, and health status, network variables continued to have a strong association with history of recent overdose. These data suggest that large drug networks should be targeted for drug overdose prevention interventions.

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