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    Cost-effectiveness of a police education program on HIV and overdose among people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico
    (The Lancet Regional Health - Americas, 2024) Cepeda, Javier A.; Beletsky, Leo; Abramovitz, Daniela; Saldana, Carlos Rivera; Kahn, James G.; Bañuelos, Arnulfo; Rangel, Gudelia; Arredondo, Jaime; Vickerman, Peter; Bórquez, Annick; Strathdee, Steffanie A.; Martin, Natasha K.
    Background: Incarceration is associated with drug-related harms among people who inject drugs (PWID). We trained >1800 police officers in Tijuana, Mexico on occupational safety and HIV/HCV, harm reduction, and decriminalization reforms (Proyecto Escudo). We evaluated its effect on incarceration, population impact and cost-effectiveness on HIV and fatal overdose among PWID. Methods: We assessed self-reported recent incarceration in a longitudinal cohort of PWID before and after Escudo. Segmented regression was used to compare linear trends in log risk of incarceration among PWID pre-Escudo (2012-2015) and post-Escudo (2016-2018). We estimated population impact using a dynamic model of HIV transmission and fatal overdose among PWID, with incarceration associated with syringe sharing and fatal overdose. The model was calibrated to HIV and incarceration patterns in Tijuana. We compared a scenario with Escudo (observed incarceration declines for 2 years post-Escudo among PWID from the segmented regression) compared to a counterfactual of no Escudo (continuation of stable pre-Escudo trends), assessing cost-effectiveness from a societal perspective. Using a 2-year intervention effect and 50-year time horizon, we determined the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER, in 2022 USD per disability-adjusted life years [DALYs] averted). Findings: Compared to stable incarceration pre-Escudo, for every three-month interval in the post-Escudo period, recent incarceration among PWID declined by 21% (adjusted relative risk = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.68-0.91). Based on these declines, we estimated 1.7% [95% interval: 0.7%-3.5%] of new HIV cases and 12.2% [4.5%-26.6%] of fatal overdoses among PWID were averted in the 2 years post-Escudo, compared to a counterfactual without Escudo. Escudo was cost-effective (ICER USD 3746/DALY averted compared to a willingness-to-pay threshold of $4842-$13,557). Interpretation: Escudo is a cost-effective structural intervention that aligned policing practices and human-rights-based public health practices, which could serve as a model for other settings where policing constitutes structural HIV and overdose risk among PWID.
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    Reducing alcohol use to prevent cancer deaths: Estimated effects among U.S. adults
    (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2024) Esser, Marissa B.; Sherk, Adam; Liu, Yong; Henley, S. Jane; Naimi, Timothy
    Introduction: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 recommends non-drinking or no more than 2 drinks for men or 1 drink for women in a day. However, even at lower levels, alcohol use increases the risk for certain cancers. This study estimated mean annual alcohol-attributable cancer deaths and the number of cancer deaths that could potentially be prevented if all U.S. adults who drank in excess of the Dietary Guidelines had instead consumed alcohol to correspond with typical consumption of those who drink within the recommended limits. Methods: Among U.S. residents aged ≥20 years, mean annual alcohol-attributable cancer deaths during 2020–2021 that could have been prevented with hypothetical reductions in alcohol use were estimated. Mean daily alcohol consumption prevalence estimates from the 2020–2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, adjusted to per capita alcohol sales to address underreporting of drinking, were applied to relative risks to calculate population-attributable fractions for cancers that can occur from drinking alcohol. Analyses were conducted during February–April 2023. Results: In the U.S., an estimated 20,216 cancer deaths were alcohol-attributable/year during 2020–2021 (men: 14,562 [72.0%]; women: 5,654 [28.0%]). Approximately 16,800 deaths (83% of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths, 2.8% of all cancer deaths) could have been prevented/year if adults who drank alcohol in excess of the Dietary Guidelines had instead reduced their consumption to ≤2 drinks/day for men or ≤1 drink/day for women. Approximately 650 additional deaths could have been prevented annually if men consumed 1 drink/day, instead of 2. Conclusions: Implementing evidence-based alcohol policies (e.g., increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density) to decrease drinking could reduce alcohol-attributable cancers, complementing clinical interventions.
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    Prescribed safer opioid supply: A scoping review of the evidence
    (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2024) Ledlie, Shaleesa; Garg, Ria; Cheng, Clare; Kolla, Gillian; Antoniou, Tony; Bouck, Zachary; Gomes, Tara
    Background: Safer opioid supply programs provide prescription pharmaceutical opioids, often with supportive services, to people at high risk of experiencing harms related to substance use. However, questions regarding the effectiveness and safety of this practice remain. We conducted a scoping review of literature describing client outcomes from formal opioid supply programs providing prescriptions for pharmaceutical opioids, and the perceptions of involved clients/providers. Methods: We performed a scoping review of peer-reviewed studies and grey literature published between January 1, 2012, to September 12, 2023. We included articles reporting either safer opioid supply client outcomes or clients/providers perspectives. Extracted data included study objectives, substance use patterns, client outcomes, client/provider perspectives, and estimates of effectiveness and/or harm. Results: Our search yielded 1,597 articles. Following removal of duplicates and application of exclusion criteria, 24 publications comprising 17 peer-reviewed and seven grey literature publications were included in our study. We generated eight themes summarizing topics in the available literature: opioid-related toxicities, infectious complications, other clinical outcomes, client-reported outcomes, program access barriers, diversion, program retention, and costs to the healthcare system. Specific findings included low rates of opioid toxicities, improved physical and mental health, and improved quality of life among clients. A lack of access to adequate opioid doses and the limited range of opioid options offered within safer opioid supply programs was described by clients and providers as a potential reason for diversion and a barrier to program access. Conclusions: Generally, evidence suggests that safer opioid supply programs are beneficial to clients through measurable outcomes. However, the available literature has important limitations, including limited inferences about the effectiveness, safety, and potential for diversion within safer opioid supply programs. Further research is needed to support the ongoing evaluation of safer opioid supply programs as one component of a multifactorial response to escalating rates of substance-related harms.
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    Uncertainty and instability in social and health services impact well-being of mothers with lived and living history of substance use
    (Child & Family Social Work, 2024) Daari, Laura; Nichol, Emily; Peak, Julia; Urbanoski, Karen; Valeriote, Hanna; Milligan, Karen
    Mothers who use substances often experience gender-based and structural inequities that can jeopardize maternal and family wellness. Instability in the availability of services, particularly during public health crises (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic), often results in changes in population health needs/funding/services, which may magnify experiences of disadvantage. Limited research has focused on times of change/crisis and its impact on maternal and family wellness. We examined the experiences of structural disadvantage, service access, and well-being among mothers who use or formerly used substances during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 mothers with current or past engagement in outpatient substance use treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women in Ontario, Canada. Transcripts were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis, revealing that instability of services and decreased access to/quality of informal and formal relationships often magnified the mental and affective toll of stressors, both pre-existing and new. The impact on well-being appeared to be greater for families who were actively engaged with child protective services. Findings are discussed in relation to literature examining systemic and societal factors that perpetuate gender-based and structural inequities experienced by mothers with lived and living histories of substance use. The potential impact of changes in public health service delivery requires thoughtful and proactive attention for and by all stakeholders, including integrated attention across systems (e.g., health, social, education) that provide services to support maternal and family well-being.
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    Characteristics, treatment patterns and retention with extended-release subcutaneous buprenorphine for opioid use disorder: A population-based cohort study in Ontario, Canada
    (Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2023) Iacono, Anita; Wang, Tianru; Tadrous, Mina; Campbell, Tonya; Kolla, Gillian; Leece, Pamela; Sproule, Beth; Kleinman, Robert A.; Besharah, Jes; Munro, Charlotte; Doolittle, McCaffrey; Gomes, Tara
    Background: Uptake and retention for opioid agonist treatment (OAT) remains low. Novel extended-release formulations may improve OAT accessibility by reducing the frequency of healthcare visits. Our aim was to examine uptake, characteristics, treatment patterns and retention of individuals initiating extended-release subcutaneous buprenorphine (BUP-ER), a monthly injectable OAT. Methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study among adults aged 18+ initiated on BUP-ER between February 3, 2020 and March 31, 2022 in Ontario, Canada. Using administrative health data, we defined continuous BUP-ER use based on repeat injections within a 56-day period and used Kaplan-Meier curves to estimate time on treatment. Among new BUP-ER recipients, we described individual and prescriber characteristics, healthcare utilization and treatment patterns. Results: 2366 individuals initiated BUP-ER. The median time to BUP-ER discontinuation was 183 days (interquartile range: 66–428 days) and 52.0% of individuals were co-prescribed buprenorphine/naloxone at least once throughout the period of BUP-ER receipt. Among individuals who initiated on a dose of 300mg BUP-ER and had three or more injections, 18.8% continued to receive only 300mg doses (N=276 of 1470). Furthermore, 28.6% of those whose dose was reduced to 100mg (N=341 of 1194) had a subsequent dose increase to 300mg. Conclusions: On average, people initiating BUP-ER discontinue within the first 6 months of treatment. While BUP-ER is likely providing an important OAT option, the high occurrence of discontinuation, supplementation with buprenorphine/naloxone, and frequent dose increases suggest inadequacy of current dosing recommendations among a proportion of individuals.
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    Translating the lived experience of illicit drinkers into program guidance for cannabis substitution: Experiences from the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study
    (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2023) Bailey, Aaron; Harps, Myles; Belcher, Clint; Williams, Henry; Amos, Cecil; Donovan, Brent; Sedore, George; SOLID Victoria; Graham, Brittany; Goulet-Stock, Sybil; Cartwright, Jenny; Robinson, Jennifer; Farrell-Low, Amanda; Willson, Mark; Sutherland, Christy; Stockwell, Tim; Pauly, Bernie; The Eastside Illicit Drinkers Group for Education
    A small but growing body of research has suggested the potential for cannabis substitution to support Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) service users to reduce acute and chronic alcohol-related harms. In 2022, researchers from the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study (CMAPS) noted a dearth of accessible, alcohol-specific educational resources to support service users and program staff to implement cannabis substitution pilots at several MAP sites in Canada. In this essay, we draw on over 10-years of collaboration between CMAPS, and organizations of people with lived experience (the Eastside Illicit Drinkers Group for Education (EIDGE) and SOLID Victoria) to describe our experiences co-creating cannabis education resources where none existed to support MAP sites interested in beginning to provide cannabis to participants. The research team relied on the unique lived experiences and informal cannabis-related harm reduction strategies described by EIDGE and SOLID members to create cannabis education resources that were accurate and relevant to MAP sites. EIDGE was familiar with creating peer-oriented educational resources and convened meetings and focus groups to engage peers. CMAPS research team members created standard cannabis unit equivalencies to support program delivery, and clinical advisors ensured that the stated risks and benefits of cannabis substitution, as well as tapering guidance for withdrawal management, were safe and feasible. The collaboration ultimately produced tailored client-facing and provider-facing resources. Our experience demonstrates that the lived expertise of drinkers can play an integral role in creating alcohol harm reduction informational materials, specifically those related to cannabis substitution, when combined with data from rigorous, community-based programs of research like CMAPS. We close by listing additional considerations for cannabis substitution program design for MAP settings emerging from this process of collaboration between illicit drinkers, service providers, clinicians, and researchers for consideration by other programs.
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    A realist review of how community-based drug checking services could be designed and implemented to promote engagement of people who use drugs
    (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022) Masterton, Wendy; Falzon, Danilo; Burton, Gillian; Carver, Hannah; Wallace, Bruce; Aston, Elizabeth V.; Sumnall, Harry; Measham, Fiona; Gittins, Rosalind; Craik, Vicki; Schofield, Joe; Little, Simon; Parkes, Tessa
    With rising numbers of drug-related deaths in the UK and globally, exploration of interventions that seek to reduce drug-related harm is essential. Drug checking services (DCS) allow people to submit drug samples for chemical analysis and receive feedback about the sample, as well as harm reduction advice. The use of DCS is often linked to festival and/or nightlife settings and to so-called ‘recreational’ drug use, but research has also shown the potential of community-based DCS as an intervention serving more varied demographics of people who use drugs, including more marginalised individuals and those experiencing drug dependence. Whilst there is a growing evidence base on the effectiveness of drug checking as a harm reduction intervention, there is still limited evidence of the underlying mechanisms and processes within DCS which may aid implementation and subsequent engagement of people who use drugs. This presents a challenge to understanding why engagement differs across types of DCS, and how best to develop and deliver services across different contexts and for different populations. To explore the contexts and mechanisms which impact engagement in community-based DCS, a realist review was undertaken to synthesise the international evidence for the delivery and implementation of DCS. There were 133 sources included in the review. From these sources the underlying contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes relating to DCS implementation and engagement were developed and refined into seven programme theories. The findings of this review are theoretically novel and hold practical relevance for the design of DCS, with implications for optimisation, tailoring, and implementing services to reach individuals in different settings.
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    Mediated and moderated associations between cumulative lifetime stressor exposure, emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and lifetime alcohol use: A cross-sectional scoping study of UK drinkers
    (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2023) Clay, James M.; Baker, Kiera A.; Mezabrovschi, Roxana D.; Berti, Giacomo; Shields, Grant S.; Slavich, George M.; Stafford, Lorenzo D.; Parker, Matthew O.
    Stress, trait impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation are independent predictors of alcohol use and misuse, but little is known about the potential mechanisms that link these risk factors together. To address this issue, we carried out an exploratory cross-sectional study, on UK-based participants. Our preregistered, hypothesised theoretical framework was that emotional dysregulation mediates the association between cumulative lifetime stressor exposure and lifetime alcohol use. We also hypothesised that heightened impulsivity would strengthen these relations. As hypothesised, emotional dysregulation fully mediated the relation between cumulative lifetime stressor exposure and lifetime alcohol use. Several facets of impulsivity moderated these associations. For example, as levels of negative urgency increased, the associations between cumulative lifetime stressor exposure and emotional dysregulation, emotional dysregulation and lifetime alcohol use, and lifetime stress exposure and lifetime alcohol use, via emotional dysregulation, strengthened. These preliminary findings propose a theoretically framed model which integrates several prominent risk-factors for alcohol misuse, extending prior research and generating interesting and novel lines of enquiry for longitudinal and cross-cultural analyses. The findings also highlight the potential clinical utility of screening for lifetime stress exposure while tailoring personalised treatment interventions.
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    Nutrition cues on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage containers sold in grocery stores in Québec City, Canada
    (Preventive Medicine Reports, 2023) Demers-Potvin, Élisabeth; Gaucher-Holm, Alexa; Hobin, Erin; Provencher, Véronique; Niquette, Manon; Bélanger-Gravel, Ariane; Vanderlee, Lana
    Nutrition cues on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages (RTDs) may create an illusion of healthfulness; however, nutrition information on alcohol in Canada is seldom regulated. This research aimed to systematically record the use of nutrition cues on a subsample of RTDs sold in grocery stores. In July 2021, all available RTDs were purchased from three major grocery store banners in Québec City, Canada. Data regarding container size, purchase format, alcohol-by-volume (ABV), presence of nutrition cues (nutrient claims, other food-related claims and nutrition facts tables [NFTs]) and container surface occupied by nutrition cues were recorded. RTDs were classified as hard seltzers or pre-mixed cocktails and their ABV as “light-strength” (3.5%–4.0% ABV) and “regular-strength” (>4.0%–7.0% ABV). In total (n = 193), 23% were hard seltzers and 17% light-strength. Most RTDs (68%) had ≥1 type of nutrition cue, most often natural flavour claims (45%), an NFT (38%), and calorie claims (29%). Light-strength beverages were more likely than regular-strength to carry any nutrient claim (97% vs. 19%, p < 0.0001), an NFT (97% vs. 26%, p < 0.0001) and other food-related claims (e.g., natural flavour) (88% vs. 52%, p = 0.0002). In adjusted regression analyses, hard seltzers were more likely than pre-mixed cocktails to carry any nutrient claim (AOR = 19.1, 95% CI:7.5,48.7), any other food-related claim (AOR = 7.5, 95% CI:2.9,19.4), and an NFT (AOR = 45.5, 95% CI:12.6,163.9). The mean container surface occupied by nutrition cues was higher for hard seltzers compared to pre-mixed cocktails (13% vs 3%, p < 0.0001). The high proportion of RTDs carrying nutrition cues supports the need to further regulate labelling and marketing of RTDs.
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    The impact of alcohol minimum unit pricing on people with experience of homelessness: Qualitative study
    (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2023) Emslie, Carol; Dimova, Elena; O'Brien, Rosaleen; Whiteford, Martin; Johnsen, Sarah; Rush, Robert; Smith, Iain D.; Stockwell, Tim; Whittaker, Anne; Elliott, Lawrie
    Background: Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) was introduced in Scotland in May 2018. Existing evidence suggests MUP can reduce alcohol consumption in the general population, but there is little research about its impact on vulnerable groups. This qualitative study explored experiences of MUP among people with experience of homelessness. Methods: We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 46 people with current or recent experience of homelessness who were current drinkers when MUP was introduced. Participants (30 men and 16 women) were aged 21 to 73 years. Interviews focused on views and experiences of MUP. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: People with experience of homelessness were aware of MUP but it was accorded low priority in their hierarchy of concerns. Reported impacts varied. Some participants reduced their drinking, or moved away from drinking strong white cider, in line with policy intentions. Others were unaffected because the cost of their preferred drink (usually wine, vodka or beer) did not change substantially. A minority reported increased involvement in begging. Wider personal, relational and social factors also played an important role in responses to MUP. Conclusion: This is the first qualitative study to provide a detailed exploration of the impact of MUP among people with experience of homelessness. Our findings suggest that MUP worked as intended for some people with experience of homelessness, while a minority reported negative consequences. Our findings are of international significance to policymakers, emphasising the need to consider the impact of population level health policies on marginalised groups and the wider contextual factors that affect responses to policies within these groups. It is important to invest further in secure housing and appropriate support services and to implement and evaluate harm reduction initiatives such as managed alcohol programmes.
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    Disease-related stigma among people who inject drugs in Toronto amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
    (Drug and Alcohol Dependence Reports, 2023) Bowles, Jeanette M.; Kolla, Gillian; Smith, Laramie R.; Scheim, Ayden; Dodd, Zoe; Werb, Dan
    Background: Stigma overwhelmingly affects people who inject drugs. The COVID-19 pandemic posed unique challenges for people who inject drugs, who are already stigmatized as being “dangerous and spreading disease.” The present study explored ways in which stigma was experienced by a sample of people who inject drugs in Toronto, Canada following COVID-related public health precaution measures. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with people who inject drugs (n = 24) recruited from supervised consumption sites in Toronto, Canada. The semi-structured interview guide focused on the impact of COVID-19 on participants’ health and social well-being. Interviews took place six-months after initial COVID-19 precautions (September-October 2020). We used thematic analysis to examine findings, with stigma being an emergent theme. Results: Participants described heightened acts of stigma after COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, including feeling treated as “diseased” and the cause of COVID-19′s spread. They reported being less likely to receive emergency care during events such as overdoses. Participants perceived increased disease-related stigma evident through actions of stigma, including amplified dehumanization by the public, others avoiding all contact with them, and more discrimination by police and hospital systems. Conclusion: Participants provided specific examples of how stigmatizing behaviors harmed them after COVID-19 precautions began. It is plausible that stigma contributed to the dramatic increase in fatal overdoses, difficulty accessing housing, and further difficulty accessing needed healthcare in our setting. Integrating evidence-based harm reduction approaches in areas where stigma is evident might offset harms stemming from disease-related stigma and mitigate these harms during future public health emergencies.
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    The distribution of alcohol-attributable healthcare encounters across the population of alcohol users in Ontario, Canada
    (Preventive Medicine Reports, 2023) Andreacchi, Alessandra T.; Smith, Brendan T.; Rehm, Jürgen; Crépault, Jean-François; Sherk, Adam; Hobin, Erin
    Recent evidence suggests there may be no safe level of alcohol use as even low levels are associated with increased risk for harm. However, the magnitude of the population-level health burden from lower levels of alcohol use is poorly understood. The objective was to estimate the distribution of alcohol-attributable healthcare encounters (emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations) across the population of alcohol users aged 15+ in Ontario, Canada. Using the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP) tool, wholly and partially alcohol-attributable healthcare encounters were estimated across alcohol users: (1) former (no past-year use); (2) low volume (≤67.3 g ethanol/week); (3) medium volume (>67.3–134.5 g ethanol/week for women and >67.3–201.8 g ethanol/week for men); and (4) high volume (>134.5 g ethanol/week for women and >201.8 g ethanol/week for men). The alcohol-attributable healthcare burden was distributed across the population of alcohol users. A small population of high volume users (23% of men, 13% of women) were estimated to have contributed to the greatest proportion of alcohol-attributable healthcare encounters, particularly among men (men: 65% of ED visits and 71% of hospitalizations, women: 49% of ED visits and 50% of hospitalizations). The 71% of women low and medium volumes users were estimated to have contributed to a substantial proportion of alcohol-attributable healthcare encounters (47% of ED visits and 34% of hospitalizations). Findings provide support for universal alcohol policies (i.e., delivered to the entire population) for reducing population-level alcohol-attributable harm in addition to targeted policies for high-risk users.
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    Peer support and overdose prevention responses: A systematic 'state-of-the-art' review
    (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021) Mercer, Fiona; Miler, Joanna Astrid; Pauly, Bernie; Carver, Hannah; Hnízdilová, Kristina; Foster, Rebecca; Parkes, Tessa
    Overdose prevention for people who use illicit drugs is essential during the current overdose crisis. Peer support is a process whereby individuals with lived or living experience of a particular phenomenon provide support to others by explicitly drawing on these experiences. This review provides a systematic search and evidence synthesis of peer support within overdose prevention interventions for people who use illicit drugs. A systematic search of six databases (CINAHL, SocINDEX, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Knowledge) was conducted in November 2020 for papers published in English between 2000 and 2020. Following screening and full-text review, 46 papers met criteria and were included in this review. A thematic analysis approach was used to synthesize themes. Important findings include: the value of peers in creating trusted services; the diversity of peers’ roles; the implications of barriers on peer-involved overdose prevention interventions; and the stress and trauma experienced by peers. Peers play a pivotal role in overdose prevention interventions for people who use illicit drugs and are essential to the acceptability and feasibility of such services. However, peers face considerable challenges within their roles, including trauma and burnout. Future interventions must consider how to support and strengthen peer roles in overdose settings.
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    Exploring the potential of implementing managed alcohol programmes to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission, and wider harms, for people experiencing alcohol dependency and homelessness in Scotland
    (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021) Parkes, Tessa; Carver, Hannah; Masterton, Wendy; Booth, Hazel; Ball, Lee; Murdoch, Helen; Falzon, Danilo; Pauly, Bernie; Matheson, Catriona
    People who experience homelessness and alcohol dependency are more vulnerable than the general population to risks/harms relating to COVID-19. This mixed methods study explored stakeholder perspectives concerning the impact of COVID-19 and the potential utility of introducing managed alcohol programmes (MAPs) in Scotland as part of a wider health/social care response for this group. Data sources included: 12 case record reviews; 40 semi-structured qualitative interviews; and meeting notes from a practitioner-researcher group exploring implementation of MAPs within a third sector/not-for-profit organisation. A series of paintings were curated as a novel part of the research process to support knowledge translation. The case note review highlighted the complexity of health problems experienced, in addition to alcohol dependency, including polysubstance use, challenges related to alcohol access/use during lockdown, and complying with stay-at-home rules. Qualitative analysis generated five subthemes under the theme of ‘MAPs as a response to COVID-190 : changes to alcohol supply/use including polysubstance use; COVID-19-related changes to substance use/homelessness services; negative changes to services for people with alcohol problems; the potential for MAPs in the context of COVID-19; and fears and concerns about providing MAPs as a COVID-19 response. We conclude that MAPs have the potential to reduce a range of harms for this group, including COVID-19-related harms.
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    The implementation of overdose prevention sites as a novel and nimble response during an illegal drug overdose public health emergency
    (International Journal of Drug Policy, 2019) Wallace, Bruce; Pagan, Flora; Pauly, Bernie
    Background Drug-related overdoses were declared a public health emergency in British Columbia, Canada in April, 2016 facilitating the scale-up of responses including rapid sanctioning and implementation of overdose prevention sites (OPSs). OPSs are a health service providing supervised injection and immediate overdose response. In BC, OPSs were operational within weeks of sanctioning. In the first year of operation over 20 OPSs were established with approximately 550,000 visits and no overdose deaths at any site. In this paper, we examine the implementation of OPSs as a novel and nimble response to prevent overdose deaths as a result of injection drug use. Methods A multiple case study design was used with the Consolidated Framework for Implementation (CFIR) informing the analysis. Three sites in a single city were included with each site constituting a case. In this paper, we focus on qualitative interviews with 15 staff and their perceptions of the implementation of the OPSs as well as provincial and local documents. Results The legislative process to implement OPSs was unprecedented as it sanctioned supervised injection services as an extraordinary measure under a declared public health emergency. Innovative and inclusionary practices were possible within state-sanctioned OPSs, as the sites were government-directed yet community-developed, with PWUD centred in service design, implementation and delivery. OPSs lack permanency and may be limited to the duration of the public health emergency. Conclusion The rapid implementation of OPSs provides an international example of an alternative to lengthy and often onerous sanctioning processes for supervised consumption services (SCSs). Overdose prevention sites provide an example of a novel service design and nimble implementation process that combines the benefits of state-sanctioned injection services with community-driven implementation. Such evidence questions the continued acceptability of governments’ restrictive sanctioning processes, which have limited expansion of SCSs internationally and the implementation of services that are not necessarily aligned with the needs of PWUD.
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    Health benefits from moderate drinking: a critical review
    (Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2015-09-24) Andreasson, Sven; Chikritzhs, Tanya; Dangardt, Frida; Holder, Harold; Naimi, Timothy; Stockwell, Tim
    From INEBRIA 12th Congress, Atlanda, GA, USA. 24-25 September 2015
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    Complicating the dominant morality discourse: mothers and fathers’ constructions of substance use during pregnancy and early parenthood
    (International Journal for Equity in Health, 2015-08-25) Benoit, Cecilia; Magnus, Samantha; Phillips, Rachel; Marcellus, Lenora; Charbonneau, Sinéad
    Introduction: Consumption of substances is a highly controversial behaviour, with those who do so commonly viewed as deviants, even criminals, or else as out of control addicts. In other work we showed that the use of substances by women who are pregnant or have recently become parents was mainly viewed by health and social care providers as morally wrong. Problematic substance use was framed through the narrow lens of gendered responsibilisation, resulting in women being seen primarily as foetal incubators and primary caregivers of infants. Methods: In this follow-up paper we examine descriptive and qualitative data from a convenience sample of biological mothers and fathers (N = 34) recruited as part of a larger mixed methods study of the development and early implementation of an integrated primary maternity care program. We present a description of the participants’ backgrounds, family circumstances, health status, and perception of drug-related stigma. This is succeeded by a thematic analysis of their personal views on substance use during both pregnancy and the transition to parenthood. Results: Our results show that while many mothers and fathers hold abstinence as the ideal during pregnancy and early parenting, they simultaneously recognize the autonomy of women to judge substance use risk for themselves. Participants also call attention to social structural factors that increase/decrease harms associated with such substance use, and present an embodied knowledge of substance use based on their tacit knowledge of wellness and what causes harm. Conclusions: While these two main discourses brought forward by parents concerning the ideal of abstinence and the autonomy of women are not always reconcilable and are partially a reflection of the dissonance between dominant moral codes regarding motherhood and the lived experiences of people who use substances, service providers who are attuned to these competing discourses are likely to be more effective in their delivery of health and social services for vulnerable families. More holistic and nuanced perspectives of health, substance use, and parenting may generate ethical decision-making practice frameworks that guide providers in meeting and supporting the efforts of mothers and fathers to achieve well-being within their own definitions of problematic substance use.
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    Primary health care utilization for alcohol-attributed diseases in British Columbia Canada 2001–2011
    (BMC Family Practice, 2015-03-11) Slaunwhite, Amanda K; Macdonald, Scott
    Background: The purpose of this study was to determine whether general practitioner visits for alcohol-attributed diseases increased in a decade when several regulatory changes were made to the distribution and price of alcohol in British Columbia Canada. Methods: General practitioner consultations for alcohol-attributed diseases were examined using data from British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan database. Negative binomial regression was used to measure the significance of yearly variations using incidence rate ratios by disease type per year. Results: From 2001 to 2011, 690,401 visits were made to general practitioners by 198,623 persons with alcohol-attributed diseases. Most visits (86.2%) were for alcohol dependency syndrome (N = 595,371). General practitioner visits for alcohol-attributed diseases increased significantly (p < .001) by 53.3% from 14,882 cases in 2001 to 22,823 cases in 2011. While the number of cases increased from 2001–2011, the frequency of visits to general practitioners significantly decreased from 3.9 in 2001 to 2.7 visits per case in 2011 (F = 428.1, p < .001). Conclusion: From 2001 to 2011 there were significant increases in the number of persons presenting to general practitioners with alcohol-attributed diseases in British Columbia. The results of this study demonstrate the need to provide enhanced support to general practitioners in the treatment of patients with substance use disorders given the increasing number of primary health care patients with alcohol-attributed diseases.
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    A chance to stop and breathe: participants’ experiences in the North American Opiate Medication Initiative clinical trial
    (Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2014-09-29) Oviedo-Joekes, Eugenia; Marchand, Kirsten; Lock, Kurt; Chettiar, Jill; Marsh, David C.; Brissette, Suzanne; Anis, Aslam H; Schechter, Martin T
    Background: The North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) clinical trial compared the effectiveness of injectable diacetylmorphine (DAM) or hydromorphone (HDM) to oral methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). This study aimed to determine participants’ perceptions of treatment delivered in NAOMI. Methods: A qualitative sub-study was conducted with 29 participants (12 female): 18 (62.1%) received injectable DAM or HDM and 11 (37.9%) received MMT. A phenomenological theoretical framework was used. Semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was used over successive phases and was driven by the semantic meanings of the data. Results: Participants receiving injectable medications suggested that the supervised delivery model was stringent but provided valuable stability to their lives. Females discussed the adjustment required for the clinical setting, while males focused on the challenging clinic schedule and its impact on employment abilities. Participants receiving MMT described disappointment with being randomized to this treatment; however, positive aspects, including the quick titration time and availability of auxiliary services, were also discussed. Conclusion: Treatment with injectable DAM (or HDM) is preferred by participants and considered effective in reducing the burden of opioid dependency. Engaging patients in research regarding their perceptions of treatment provides a comprehensive assessment of treatment needs and barriers. Clinical trial registration: NCT00175357
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    Differential long-term outcomes for voluntary and involuntary transition from injection to oral opioid maintenance treatment
    (Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2014-06-08) Oviedo-Joekes, Eugenia; Guh, Daphne; Marchand, Kirsten; Marsh, David C.; Lock, Kurt; Brissette, Suzanne; Anis, Aslam H; Schechter, Martin T
    Background: The most widely used maintenance treatment for opioid dependency is substitution with long-acting oral opioids. Treatment with injectable diacetylmorphine provides an opportunity for patients to stabilize and possibly transition to oral treatment, if clinically indicated. The aim of this study was to explore outcomes of individuals that received injectable diacetylmorphine and voluntarily transitioned to oral methadone. Design and methods: The North American Opiate Medication Initiative was a randomized controlled trial that compared the effectiveness of injectable diacetylmorphine (or hydromorphone) to oral methadone for long-term opioid-dependency. Treatment was provided for 12-months with an additional 3 months for transition and weaning. Participants were followed until 24-months from randomization. Among the participants randomized to injectable treatments, a sub-group voluntarily chose to transition to oral methadone (n = 16) during the treatment period. Illicit heroin use and treatment retention were assessed at 24-months for those voluntarily and involuntarily transitioning (n = 95) to oral methadone. Results: At 24-months, the group that voluntarily transitioned to oral methadone had higher odds of treatment retention (adjusted odds ratio = 5.55; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.11, 27.81; Chi-square = 4.33, df = 1, p-value = 0.037) than the involuntary transition group. At 24-months, the adjusted mean difference in prior 30 days of illicit heroin use for the voluntary, compared to the involuntary group was −5.58 (95% CI = −11.62, 0.47; t-value = −1.83, df = 97.4, p-value = 0.070). Conclusions: Although the results of this study were based on small groups of self-selected (i.e., non-randomized) participants, our data underlines the critical importance of voluntary and patient-centered decision making. If we had continued offering treatment with diacetylmorphine, those retained to injectable medication may have sustained the achieved improvements in the first 12 months. Diversified opioid treatment should be available so patients and physicians can flexibly choose the best treatment at the time. Trial registration: Clinical Trial Registration: NCT00175357
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