Patterns of drug use and associated harms among rural injecting drug users: comparisons with metropolitan injecting drug users

Aust J Rural Health. 2006 Jun;14(3):120-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2006.00775.x.


Objective: Given the harms associated with injecting drug use to both individuals and community and the paucity of such data from rural areas, the study aimed to compare: patterns of drug use, harms, and service access and utilisation among rural and metropolitan injecting drug users (IDU).

Design: Cross-sectional survey, using interviewer-administered structured questionnaire.

Participants: One hundred and sixty-four rural and 96 metropolitan IDU from seven different New South Wales Area Health Services, recruited through needle and syringe programs (NSPs), snowballing techniques and advertisement.

Results: Age, gender, education and employment were similar for rural and metropolitan participants. Both samples reported use of a range of drugs, but rural participants were less likely than metropolitan participants to report daily heroin use (2% vs 10%), but more likely to report having injected morphine (50% vs 21%) in the last six months. Similar proportions reported using a needle/syringe after another person. Rural participants were less likely to report use of NSPs (36% vs 80%) and reported a number of barriers to NSP access and also to drug treatment services. Rural participants reported a significantly longer period of time between blood-borne virus testing.

Conclusion: Samples of rural IDU are similar to metropolitan, although report some differences in patterns of drug use. Service provision, including access to new injecting equipment, blood-borne virus testing and drug treatment was found to cause considerable problems for rural IDU. These issues warrant further consideration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hepatitis / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis / epidemiology
  • Heroin Dependence / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine Dependence / epidemiology
  • Needle Sharing / statistics & numerical data
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Risk-Taking
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / diagnosis
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / therapy
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*