Background: Esclating epidemics of fatal overdose are affecting communities across Canada. In many instances, the unanticipated presence of powerful opioids, such as fentanyl, in street drugs is a contributing factor. Drug checking offered within supervised injection services (SIS) is being considered as a potential measure for reducing overdose and related harms. We therefore sought to characterize the willingness of people who inject drugs (PWID) to use drug checking within SIS.
Methods: Data were derived from a cross-sectional survey examining the feasibility of SIS in London, Canada, a mid-sized city. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine factors associated with willingness to frequently (always or usually) use drug checking at SIS.
Results: Between March and April 2016, 180 PWID were included in the present study, including 68 (38%) women. In total, 78 (43%) reported that they would frequently check their drugs at SIS if this service were available. In multivariable analyses, female gender (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 2.31; 95% confidence interval [CI]: (1.20-4.46), homelessness (AOR = 2.36; 95% CI: 1.14-4.86), and drug dealing (AOR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.07-4.33) were positively associated with willingness to frequently check drugs at SIS.
Conclusion: These findings highlight the potential of drug checking as a complement to other services offered within SIS, particularly given that subpopulations of PWID at heightened risk of overdose were more likely to report willingness to frequently use this service. However, further research is needed to determine the possible health impacts of offering drug checking at SIS.
Keywords: Drug checking; Fentanyl; Harm reduction; Injection drug use; Opioids; Overdose; Supervised injection services.
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