Publications & Reports

Factors associated with perceived decline in the quality of drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from community-recruited cohorts of people who use drugs in Vancouver, Canada.

Erica McAdam, Kanna Hayashi, Huiru Dong, Zishan Cui, Kali-Olt Sedgemore, Paul Dietze, Paige Phillips, Dean Wilson, M-J Milloy, Kora DeBeck
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, 400-1045 Howe St., Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9, Canada; School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Driven by an increasingly toxic drug supply, drug toxicity deaths in the United States and Canada have risen to unprecedented levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to characterize the prevalence of and the factors associated with a perceived decline in the quality of drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic among community-recruited cohorts of PWUD in Vancouver, Canada. METHODS: Data collection took place between July and November 2020. In adherence with COVID-19 safety protocols, questionnaires were administered by interviewers through remote means (e.g., phone or videoconference). Using multivariable logistic regression, we characterized the prevalence of and factors associated with a perceived decline in drug quality during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vancouver, Canada. RESULTS: Of the 738 individuals included in this analysis, 272 (36.9%) reported that the quality of drugs declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. In multivariable analysis, perceived decline in the quality of drugs was significantly associated with: recent non-fatal overdose (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.01, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.29-3.15), at least weekly injection drug use (AOR=1.94, 95% CI: 1.40-2.71), at least weekly crack use (AOR=1.61, 95%CI: 1.10-2.36), and at least weekly crystal methamphetamine use (AOR=1.46, 95%CI: 1.03-2.08). DISCUSSION: Over a third of PWUD perceived that the quality of drugs declined during the COVID-19 pandemic and these individuals were significantly more likely to report experiencing a recent non-fatal overdose, engaging in frequent injection drug and stimulant use. Study findings indicate the need for interventions to address the toxic drug supply, including providing a regulated supply.

Link to publisher’s web site

Publication

  • Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence
  • Published: 25/04/2022
  • Volume: 236
  • Pagination: 109471

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