UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Factors associated with drug checking service utilization among people who use drugs in a Canadian setting Long, Viseth; Arredondo, Jaime; Ti, Lianping; Grant, Cameron; DeBeck, Kora; Milloy, M-J; Lysyshyn, Mark; Wood, Evan; Kerr, Thomas; Hayashi, Kanna


Background: The United States and Canada are amidst an opioid overdose crisis, with the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) among the hardest hit. In response, drug checking services (DCS) have been introduced in this setting as a novel pilot harm reduction intervention though little is known about usage rates. Therefore, we sought to identify factors associated with drug checking uptake among people who use drugs (PWUD) in Vancouver, BC. Methods: Data were derived from three ongoing prospective cohort studies of PWUD in Vancouver between June and November 2018. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with self-reported DCS utilization in the past 6 months among participants at high risk of fentanyl exposure (i.e., those self-reporting illicit opioid use or testing positive for fentanyl via urine drug screen). Results: Among 828 eligible participants, including 451 (55%) males, 176 (21%) reported recent use of DCS. In multivariable analyses, factors significantly associated with DCS utilization included: homelessness (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 1.47; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.01–2.13) and involvement in drug dealing (AOR 1.59; 95% CI 1.05–2.39). Conclusions: In our sample of PWUD, uptake of DCS was low, although those who were homeless, a sub-population known to be at a heightened risk of overdose, were more likely to use the services. Those involved in drug dealing were also more likely to use the services, which may imply potential for improving drug market safety. Further evaluation of drug checking is warranted.

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