Polysubstance Use Among US Women of Reproductive Age Who Use Opioids for Nonmedical Reasons

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To determine the prevalence and patterns of polysubstance use among US reproductive-aged women who use opioids for nonmedical purposes.


We used the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (2005-2014) data on female respondents aged 18 to 44 years reporting nonmedical opioid use in the past 30 days (unweighted n = 4498). We categorized patterns of polysubstance use in the past 30 days, including cigarettes, binge drinking, and other legal and illicit substances and reported prevalence adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment.


Of all women with nonmedical opioid use, 11% reported only opioid use. Polysubstance use was highest in non-Hispanic White women and women with lower educational attainment. The most frequently used other substances among women using opioids nonmedically were cigarettes (56.2% smoked > 5 cigarettes per day), binge drinking (49.7%), and marijuana (32.4%). Polysubstance use was similarly prevalent among pregnant women with nonmedical opioid use.


Polysubstance use is highly prevalent among US reproductive-aged women reporting nonmedical opioid use.

Public Health Implications

Interventions are needed that address concurrent use of multiple substances.

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