Drug use practices among people who inject drugs in a context of drug market changes: Challenges for optimal coverage of harm reduction programs
Roy, Élise; Arruda, Nelson; Leclerc, Pascale; Morissette, Carole; Blanchette, Caty; Blouin, Karine; Alary, Michel
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Until the early 2000s, people who inject drugs (PWID) in Québec had mainly been injecting powder cocaine and heroin. Since then, ethnographic studies have shown that the drug market has diversified, with crack and prescription opioids (PO) becoming increasingly available. This could have led to changes in drug use practices among PWID. The objectives of our study were to examine annual trends in injection of different drugs, crack smoking and frequent injection (FI), as well as relationships between injected drugs and FI. METHODS: PWID are participants in the ongoing Québec SurvUDI surveillance system. PWID (past 6 months) were recruited in 2 urban and 6 semi-urban/rural sites. Each visit included a structured interview addressing drug use behaviours. Analyses were carried out using GEE methods. For trend analyses (2003-2014) on drugs and FI (number of injections≥upper quartile, previous month), the first annual interview was selected for PWID with multiple participations per year. Analyses on associations between FI and types of injected drugs were based on all interviews (2004-2014). RESULTS: Crack/cocaine and heroin injection declined significantly, with prevalence ratios (PR) per year of 0.983 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.980-0.986] and 0.979 (95% CI: 0.969-0.990), while PO injection [PR=1.052 (1.045-1.059)], crack smoking [PR=1.006 (1.001-1.012)], and FI (≥120 injections, previous month) significantly increased [PR=1.015 (1.004-1.026)]. Compared to PWID who injected crack/cocaine±other drugs, the proportion of PWID reporting FI was higher among those who injected PO+heroin/speedball, crack/cocaine or other drugs (adjusted PR 2.29; 95% CI: 2.07-2.53) or PO only (aPR 1.72; 95%CI: 1.47-2.01). CONCLUSIONS: Changes that have occurred in the drug market are reflected in PWID's practices. The high frequency of injection observed among PO injectors is of particular concern. Drug market variations are a challenge for health authorities responsible for harm reduction programs.
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