Drug dependence and associated risks among female street-based sex workers in the greater Sydney area, Australia

Subst Use Misuse. 2008 Jul;43(8-9):1202-17. doi: 10.1080/10826080801914410.


Background: This study examines drug use and dependence and associated risks among female street-based sex workers.

Methods: Cross-sectional data collected from 72 women between April and August 2005 in Sydney, Australia, via face-to-face interviews.

Sample: The average age was 34 years.

Results: Risk factors associated with developing problematic drug use were prevalent. Child sexual abuse, leaving home before the age of 16, and exposure to multiple traumas was common. Depression and posttraumatic stress disorder were also prevalent. A substantial minority reported cocaine dependence which was associated with engaging in sex and injecting risk behaviors.

Conclusions: More targeted interventions for this group are needed. Research on the value of extending existing outreach services to further reduce the harms associated with sex work and drug use is indicated. The study's limitations are noted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Crack Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / psychology
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Work / psychology
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data


  • Crack Cocaine