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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2012 Nov;38(6):588-92. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2012.673664. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Differences in self-reported discrimination by primary type of drug used among New York City drug users.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. ncraw@umich.edu



Illicit drug users experience various forms of discrimination which may vary by type of drug used, as there are different levels of stigma associated with different types of drugs.


This study investigated self-report of perceived discrimination by primary type of drug used.


This analysis used data from "Social Ties Associated with Risk of Transition into Injection Drug Use" (START), a cross-sectional study of recently initiated injection drug users (IDUs) and prospective study of heroin/crack/cocaine-using non-IDUs (n = 652). Using log binomial regression, the relationship between primary drug used (i.e., single drug used most often) with discrimination due to drug use was examined.


Heroin users were significantly more likely (Prevalence ratio (PR): 1.52 (95% Confidence interval (CI): 1.15-2.07)) to report discrimination due to drug use compared to cocaine users. CONCLUSION AND SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANce: More research is needed to understand the mechanism through which discrimination affects heroin users, and its potential relation with other discrimination-related outcomes, namely depression and drug treatment.

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