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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Heroin Users Aware of Fentanyl, But at High Risk of Overdosing

Most heroin users in Baltimore, a city heavily affected by the opioid epidemic, recognize that the heroin they buy is now almost always laced with the highly dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

At the same time, the researchers found that a majority of these users are not adequately prepared to prevent or treat fentanyl-related overdoses because they report injecting alone or without having the overdose antidote naloxone on hand.

The findings, published February 15 in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, suggest overall that there remains a strong need for public health policies and programs that encourage users not to inject alone, to keep naloxone on hand and to use naloxone appropriately to treat overdoses.

“In many parts of the country fentanyl is now the major cause of all the death and despair arising from the opioid epidemic, and we have to reduce the barriers that prevent users from being prepared to treat fentanyl overdoses,” says study lead author Dr. Carl Latkin, professor and vice chair of the department of health, behavior and society at the Bloomberg School.

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