UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Socializing in an Open Drug Scene : The relationship Between Access to Private Space and Drug-Related Street Disorder DeBeck, Kora; Wood, Evan; Qi, Jiezhi; Fu, Eric; McArthur, Doug; Montaner, Julio; Kerr, Thomas


Background Limited attention has been given to the potential role that the structure of housing available to people who are entrenched in street-based drug scenes may play in influencing the amount of time injection drug users (IDU) spend on public streets. We sought to examine the relationship between time spent socializing in Vancouver's drug scene and access to private space. Methods Using multivariate logistic regression we evaluated factors associated with socializing (three+ hours each day) in Vancouver's open drug scene among a prospective cohort of IDU. We also assessed attitudes towards relocating socializing activities if greater access to private indoor space was provided. Results Among our sample of 1114 IDU, 43% fit our criteria for socializing in the open drug scene. In multivariate analysis, having limited access to private space was independently associated with socializing (adjusted odds ratio: 1.80, 95% confidence interval: 1.28 – 2.55). In further analysis, 65% of ‘socializers’ reported positive attitudes towards relocating socializing if they had greater access to private space. Conclusion These findings suggest that providing IDU with greater access to private indoor space may reduce one component of drug-related street disorder. Low-threshold supportive housing based on the ‘housing first’ model that include safeguards to manage behaviors associated with illicit drug use appear to offer important opportunities to create the types of private spaces that could support a reduction in street disorder.

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