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

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

McAdam E, Hayashi K, Dong H, Cui Z, Sedgemore K, Dietze P, Phillips P, Wilson D, Milloy M-J, DeBeck K. 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. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. April 25, 2022. 236: 109471.

Date created: 
2022-05-02
Identifier: 
DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109471
Keywords: 
Toxic drug supply
Drug overdose
Injection drug use
Crystal methamphetamine
Fentanyl
COVID-19
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.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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Copyright remains with the author(s).
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Sponsor(s): 
US National Institutes of Health
St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation
United States National Institute on Drug Abuse
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
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