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Prevalence and correlates of intravenous methadone syrup administration in Adelaide, Australia

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Abstract Aims 

The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of methadone syrup injecting in Adelaide, South Australia and to characterize methadone injectors, including their heroin use and risk behaviours associated with heroin overdose. Design 

Cross-sectional design. Setting 

Community setting, principally metropolitan Adelaide. Participants 

Current heroin users (used heroin in the last 6 months), recruited through snowballing. Measurements 

Structured questionnaire. Findings 

Of 365 participants, 18.4% reported having ever injected methadone syrup and 11.0% had injected methadone in the last 6 months. Those that had injected methadone were more likely to be male, and were more likely to be receiving methadone maintenance. They were also maintained on higher doses of methadone than subjects not injecting methadone. A history of methadone injection was associated with more heroin overdose experiences and greater dependence on heroin. Methadone injectors were also more likely to engage in risky behaviours associated with heroin overdose, including using heroin when no other people were present, not trial-tasting new batches of heroin and polydrug use. Conclusions 

Methadone syrup injectors appear to be at greater risk of a series of harms than subjects not injecting methadone. The prevalence of methadone syrup injecting in Adelaide, South Australia was 11%, which was lower than prevalence in Sydney, New South Wales, but higher than in Melbourne, Victoria. Jurisdictional differences concerning the prevalence of methadone syrup injecting may reflect differing policies by each state to methadone dispensing.
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Keywords: Harms; injecting; methadone syrup; prevalence; risk-taking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Drug and Alcohol Services Council, Parkside, South Australia 2: and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Publication date: 2003-04-01

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