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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2016 Sep;77(5):774-81.

Prevalence and Correlates of Heroin-Methamphetamine Co-Injection Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

Author information

Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.
Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California.
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, Mexico Section, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.



Although persons who inject drugs (PWID) in the western United States-Mexico border region are known to inject both heroin and methamphetamine, little is known about the prevalence and risks associated with co-injection of this depressant-stimulant combination (also known as "goofball" and "Mexican speedball").


Baseline data from parallel cohort studies of PWID conducted concurrently in San Diego, CA, and Tijuana, Mexico, were used to estimate the prevalence and identify correlates of heroin-methamphetamine co-injection. PWID older than 18 years of age who reported injecting illicit drugs in the past month (N = 1,311; 32.7% female) were recruited in San Diego (n = 576) and Tijuana (n = 735) and completed interviewer-administered questionnaires. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to identify correlates of heroin-meth-amphetamine co-injection.


The prevalence of co-injection in the past 6 months was 39.9% overall and was higher in Tijuana (55.8%) than in San Diego (19.8%). In multivariable analyses adjusting for study cohort, distributive syringe sharing, purchasing syringes prefilled with drugs, finding it hard to get new syringes, reporting great or urgent need for treatment, and younger age were independently associated with co-injection. Past-6-month overdose was significantly associated with higher odds of co-injection in San Diego than in Tijuana.


These findings indicate that heroin-methamphetamine co-injection is more common in Tijuana than in San Diego, yet this practice was only associated with overdose in San Diego. Heroin-methamphetamine coinjection was also independently associated with HIV-associated injection risk behaviors. Overdose-prevention interventions should address co-injection of depressants and stimulants.

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