Pain is associated with heroin use over time in HIV-infected Russian drinkers

Addiction. 2013 Oct;108(10):1779-87. doi: 10.1111/add.12274. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Aims: To evaluate whether pain was associated with increased risk of using heroin, stimulants or cannabis among HIV-infected drinkers in Russia.

Design: Secondary analysis of longitudinal data from the HERMITAGE study (HIV's Evolution in Russia-Mitigating Infection Transmission and Alcoholism in a Growing Epidemic), a behavioral randomized controlled trial, with data collected at baseline, 6-month and 12-month visits.

Setting: Recruitment occurred at HIV and addiction treatment sites in St Petersburg, Russian Federation.

Participants: Six hundred and ninety-nine HIV-infected adult drinkers.

Measurements: The primary outcome was past month illicit drug use; secondary outcomes examined each drug (heroin, stimulants and cannabis) separately. The main predictor was pain that interfered at least moderately with daily living. General estimating equations (GEE) logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between pain and subsequent illicit drug use, adjusting for potential confounders.

Findings: Participants reporting pain appeared to have higher odds of using illicit drugs, although the results did not reach statistical significance [adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.32; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.99, 1.76, P = 0.06]. There was a significant association between pain and heroin use (OR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.11-2.15, P = 0.01) but not use of other drugs (OR = 0.75; 95% CI =0.40-1.40, P = 0.35 for stimulants and OR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.45-1.07, P = 0.09 for cannabis).

Conclusions: HIV-infected Russian drinkers who report pain are more likely to use heroin over time than HIV-infected Russian drinkers who do not report pain. Pain may be an unrecognized risk factor for persistent heroin use with implications for HIV transmission in Russia.

Keywords: HIV; Heroin; pain; substance use.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Cannabis
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Heroin Dependence / complications
  • Heroin Dependence / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants