UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Supervised smoking facility access, harm reduction practices, and substance use changes during the COVID-19 pandemic: a community-engaged cross-sectional study van Draanen, Jenna; Hamilton, Jonah; Morgan, Jeffrey; Maxwell, Scott; Taylor, Tara; Richardson, Lindsey, 1977-; Nolan, Seonaid


Background The potential public health benefits of supervised smoking facilities (SSFs) are considerable, and yet implementation of SSFs in North America has been slow. We conducted this study to respond to significant knowledge gaps surrounding SSF utilization and to characterize substance use, harm reduction practices, and service utilization following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods A questionnaire was self-administered at a single site by 175 clients using an outdoor SSF in Vancouver, Canada, between October–December 2020. Questionnaire responses were summarized using descriptive statistics. Multinomial logistic regression techniques were used to examine factors associated with increased SSF utilization. Results Almost all respondents reported daily substance use (93% daily use of opioids; 74% stimulants). Most used opioids (85%) and/or methamphetamine (66%) on the day of their visit to the SSF. Respondents reported drug use practice changes at the onset of COVID-19 to reduce harm, including using supervised consumption sites, not sharing equipment, accessing medically prescribed alternatives, cleaning supplies and surfaces, and stocking up on harm reduction supplies. Importantly, 45% of SSF clients reported using the SSF more often since the start of COVID-19 with 65.2% reporting daily use of the site. Increased substance use was associated with increased use of the SSF, after controlling for covariates. Conclusions Clients of the SSF reported increasing not only their substance use, but also their SSF utilization and harm reduction practices following the onset of COVID-19. Increased scope and scale of SSF services to meet these needs are necessary.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)