3 years ago

Opioid-Involved Overdose Among Male Afghanistan/Iraq-Era U.S. Military Veterans: A Multidimensional Perspective

Andrew Golub, Luther Elliott, Honoria Guarino, Alex S. Bennett, Brett Wolfson-Stofko

Background: Mirroring nationwide trends in a broad range of U.S. populations, an alarming number of Afghanistan/Iraq-era U.S. Military veterans have experienced opioid-related overdoses. A growing body of research has examined the proximal behaviors that can precipitate an overdose; considerably less is known about more distal physiological, psychosocial and structural influences on these risk behaviors. Objectives: This study adopts a multidimensional approach to better understand opioid-related overdose among U.S. Military veterans, and seeks to explore not only the proximal behavioral precipitants of overdose events, but also the complex nexus of physiological, psychological, and sociological influences that undergird overdose events. Methods: This qualitative examination is based on interview data from 36 male veterans who were discharged from the military after September 2001 and experienced at least one opioid-related overdose during or after military service. Participants were recruited in New York City during 2014 to share narrative accounts of their overdoses. Results: Veterans' accounts indicate that background experiences, such as self-medication for social and psychological pain, trauma, social alienation and isolation, and histories of illicit drug use, precondition the more immediate factors and behaviors that precipitate overdose (including bingeing on drugs, mixing drugs, naiveté about dosage, and ambivalence about life/death). Conclusions: Findings suggest the need for comprehensive drug safety and overdose education that is sensitive to veterans' physiological, psychological, and sociological conditions. A multidimensional understanding of the distal and proximal overdose risks faced by veterans and other vulnerable groups may help lay a foundation for more inclusive/holistic approaches to overdose prevention and education.

Publisher URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2017.1306563

DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1306563

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