New York, Mar 30 (PTI) Electronic dance music (EDM) party attendees are misusing opioids like heroin, a US study has found.

Opioid use has grown to epidemic proportions in the US and has been a main contributor to a resurgence of heroin use, as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, researchers said.

In 2016, about 11.5 million Americans had misused prescription opioids, with 1.8 million meeting criteria for dependence or abuse, according to the study.

“We’ve always known that electronic dance music party attendees are at high risk for use of club drugs such as ecstasy or Molly, but we wanted to know the extent of opioid use in this population,” said Joseph Palamar from New York University in the US.

Since the study was conducted specifically on EDM partygoers, the researchers note that the results may not apply to the general population, but, rather, highlight the need for prevention efforts in this high-risk group.

“This population of experienced drug users needs to be reached to prevent initiation and continued use, which can lead to riskier and more frequent use, dependence, and deleterious outcomes such as overdose – particularly if opioids are combined with other drugs,” Palamar said.

For the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the researchers surveyed 954 individuals about to enter EDM parties at nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City.

Attendees were asked about non-medical use – defined as using in a manner which is not prescribed (such as to get high) – of 18 different opioids – including OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, fentanyl and heroin.

The researchers found that almost a quarter (23.9 per cent) of EDM party attendees have used opioids non-medically in their lifetime and one out of 10 (9.8 per cent) did so in the past year, which is higher than the national prevalence of past-year use of about four per cent of adults 18 and older.

Five per cent of respondents reported misusing opioids in the past month.

OxyContin was the most highly reported opioid used in this scene, followed by Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, and Purple Drank, also known as Sizzurp or Lean (which typically contains codeine syrup).

A smaller portion of users also snorted (15 per cent) or injected opioids (11 per cent) in the past year, which increases risk for overdose and dependence.

People who smoke cigarettes or use other drugs (including amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine) were more likely to report misusing opioids in the past month.

In particular, non-medical users of benzodiazepines such as Xanax were at high odds for also using opioids, and, on average, reported using more different opioid drugs in the past year than those who did not use opioids.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.