Aims: To estimate the prevalence of cocaine binging and examine associated factors, to characterize binge episodes and to study the relationship between cocaine binging and HIV and HCV risk behaviors among street-based cocaine users.
Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted in Montréal, Canada. Interviewer-administered questionnaire were carried out at 3-month intervals. Cocaine binging was defined as using large quantities of cocaine, without stopping, over a limited period of time, until resources run out or until being physically incapable of consuming. Generalized Estimation Equations (GEE) analyses were used. Covariates considered included demographic, behavioral, mental health and social risk factors.
Findings: In total, 605 participants were recruited. Prevalence of cocaine binging over the month prior to recruitment was 24.5%. Correlates of cocaine binging were older age (AOR 1.46), homelessness (AOR 1.44), criminal/marginal income strategies (AOR 1.61), high psychological distress (AOR 1.31), high cocaine dependence (AOR 3.71), drug overdoses (AOR 1.56) and smoking as the main route of cocaine administration (AOR 1.38). Additional GEE analyses showed that cocaine binging was significantly associated with the sharing of drug paraphernalia (AOR 1.35) and sexual relations under the influence of cocaine (AOR 1.21).
Conclusion: Cocaine binging is frequent among street-based cocaine users and is associated with markers of vulnerability. It is also associated with increased odds of both sexual and drug use risk behaviors. Interventions need to be tailored in order to help cocaine bingers develop personal strategies that could prevent binging. Harm reduction programs should help cocaine bingers adequately assess their drug equipment needs.
Keywords: Binge; Cocaine; Drug use behaviors; HCV risk behaviors; HIV risk behaviors.
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