UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Income Generation and Attitudes Toward Addiction Treatment Among People Who Use Illicit Drugs in a Canadian Setting Luongo, Nicole Marie; Richardson, Lindsey A.; Dong, Huiru; Kerr, Thomas; Milloy, M-J; Hayashi, Kanna


Introduction: Socioeconomically marginalized people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) often engage in alternative income generating activities to meet their basic needs. These activities commonly carry a number of health and social risks, which may prompt some PWUD to consider addiction treatment to reduce their drug use or drug-related expenses. We sought to determine whether engaging in certain forms of income generation was independently associated with self-reported need for addiction treatment among a cohort of PWUD in Vancouver, Canada. Methods: Data from two prospective cohorts of PWUD in Vancouver were used in generalized estimating equations to identify factors associated with self-reported need for addiction treatment, with a focus on income generating activities. Results: Between June 2013 and May 2014, 1285 respondents participated in the study of whom 483 (34.1%) were female and 396 (30.8%) indicated that they needed addiction treatment. In final multivariate analyses, key factors significantly and positively associated with self-reported need for addiction treatment included engaging in illegal income generating activities (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.96, 95% Confidence Interval [CI}: 1.11-3.46); sex work (AOR = 1.61, 95% CI: 1.05-2.47), homelessness (AOR = 1.65, 95% CI: 1.22-2.25); and recent engagement in counselling (AOR = 1.85, 95% CI: 1.40-2.44). Discussion: Our results suggest that key markers of socioeconomic marginalization are strongly linked with a stated need for addiction treatment. These findings underscore the need to provide appropriate and accessible addiction treatment access to marginalized PWUD and to consider alternative approaches to reduce socioeconomic disadvantage.

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