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Gender Patterns of Drug Use, Victimization, Health Outcomes, and Access to Care in Long-Term Opioid Injectors

Gender Patterns of Drug Use, Victimization, Health Outcomes and Access to Care, in Long-Term Opioid Injectors: Identifying Tailored Intervention Opportunities to Improve Treatment Access and Health Outcomes for Women and Men and Sub-groups Within Them

Principal Investigator: Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes

Status: Ongoing

Opioid addiction, primarily manifested as heroin addiction, remains a public health challenge in Canada. Men and women dependent on opioids find it extremely difficult to stop using them. They continue using these drugs, with intervening periods of treatment, no drug use, and relapse, despite the negative consequences; this chronic illness poses great harms to the individual, their family, and the community. People affected by this condition for many years are often considered by the health care system to be hard-to-reach and hard-to-treat. Studies show that men and women are affected differently by many illnesses, including addiction. These differences have tremendous implications for the provision of care for men and women struggling with drugs.

Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes and colleagues are simultaneously looking at the role of gender with drug use patterns (e.g. frequency, quantity), victimization (e.g. history of physical or sexual abuse, intimate partner violence), physical and mental health problems (e.g., HIV, depression), and the impact of these factors on treatment access within an urban Canadian setting. This is fundamental as these findings will help researchers understand the complex role of gender and how this can inform the provision of effective addiction treatment services for opioid dependent men and women. This will thereby reduce the difficulty in reaching and treating this group of Canadians, and improve their overall health. The findings of this study (a sub-study of SALOME) will also influence Canada’s health research, clinical practice, and policy, by making recommendations for improving access to treatment and designing innovative feasible interventions.

Health research in the heart of Vancouver