Prevalence, patterns, and harms associated with the co-injection of illicit opioids and crystal methamphetamine

Crystal methamphetamine use is associated with a wide array of physical and social harms. In spite of this, its prevalence is rising in many parts of North America. Several small studies have suggested increasing rates of co-injection of methamphetamine and opioids, though no research has focused on the specific harms associated with this trend. In Vancouver, preliminary reports have noted a similar pattern, in a context where fentanyl has become the most widely used form of illicit opioid.

In this study we propose to use a prospective cohort of people who inject drugs to ask how trends in the co-injection of methamphetamine and opioids are changing over time, and to explore the health consequences associated with this pattern of substance use as it relates to overdose risk and response to treatment.

Answering these questions will provide insight into important changes in the evolving epidemiology of substance use, and will provide information on potential implications. An appreciation of these changing patterns is not only crucial in developing evidence-based harm reduction and treatment strategies, but also in understanding how to devote treatment resources appropriately in the fight to reduce opioid-related deaths.