Opioid and Heroin Epidemics in Transition:
Recent changes in risk associated with opioid and heroin overdoses
Dr. Unick has over 20 years of experience working with injection drug using populations in both a clinical and research capacity. His recent NIDA-funded work focuses on understanding how the changing supply and use of opiates affects the health of opiate using populations. The US is facing a multi-faceted opioid and heroin overdose crisis that stems from wide availability of prescription opiates, rising heroin initiation and widespread availability of new sources, forms, and contamination of the heroin supply. Evidence is mounting for persistent and widespread distribution of synthetic opioids, e.g. fentanyl, sold covertly as heroin or in rare circumstances overtly. This opioid rich environment is increasing the risk of overdose across all groups; however, some groups are experiencing more dramatic increases in relative risk. This presentation will discuss changes in the population at risk for opioid and heroin overdoses and how those changes are distributed across geographic, demographic, and economic groups.
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