BACKGROUND: Polysubstance use among people who misuse opioids (PWMO) is highly prevalent, but understudied. We defined, estimated, and analyzed national polysubstance use patterns among PWMO using National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health data (2017-2019).
METHODS: We obtained estimates of past-month patterns of polydrug use using cluster analysis and latent class/profile analysis. We considered misuse of prescription opioids and use of heroin, cocaine (including crack), marijuana, alcohol, and "other" substances.
RESULTS: We identified a five-cluster solution for binary indicators of past-month use and a six-cluster solution for frequency of use. The largest binary cluster (37%) included misuse of prescription opioids and use of alcohol. The second-largest cluster (15%) included misuse of prescription opioids, alcohol, marijuana, and "other" substances. Among those who used heroin, 36% used methamphetamine. In terms of frequency of use, the largest cluster among people who misuse opioid who used multiple substances (almost 40%) misused prescription pain relievers, alcohol, and marijuana infrequently. The second-largest cluster (23%) used marijuana almost daily and misused prescription pain relievers an average of 6.6 days. PWMO in a cluster of almost daily heroin use indicated use of methamphetamine, marijuana, and prescription opioids. Those who used methamphetamine, were using it more than 15 days a month.
CONCLUSIONS: We have developed reference measures of polydrug patterns among US household population and estimated their demographic characteristics. We identified clusters of high-risk polydrug use. These findings have implications for the development of prevention and treatment solutions in the United States.