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Characteristics of injection drug users who participate in drug dealing: implications for drug polic

Characteristics of injection drug users who participate in drug dealing: implications for drug polic

  1. Bajeda
    Kerr T, Small W, Johnston C, Li K, Montaner JS, & Wood E. (2008). Characteristics of injection drug users who participate in drug dealing: implications for drug policy. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 40(2):147-52.

    Abstract: So-called "balanced" drug policy couples enforcement initiatives targeting drug dealers with health-focused interventions serving addicted individuals. There are few evaluations of this approach, and little is known about how these two populations may overlap. We evaluated factors associated with drug dealing among injection drug users (IDUs) in Vancouver, Canada, and examined self-reported drug-dealing roles and reasons for dealing. Among 412 IDUs seen from March through December 2005, 68 (17%) had dealt drugs during the previous six months. Variables independently associated with drug dealing included: recent incarceration (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.9; 95%CI: 1.4-6.0); frequent heroin injection (AOR = 2.5; 95%CI: 1.4-4.6); frequent cocaine injection (AOR = 2.0; 95%CI: 1.1-3.8); and recent overdose (AOR = 2.7; 95%CI: 1.0-7.3). The most common drug-dealing roles were direct selling (82%), middling (35%), and steering (19%), while the most common reasons for dealing included obtaining drugs (49%) and money (36%). Drug dealing among IDUs was predicted by several markers of higher intensity addiction, and drug-dealing IDUs tended to occupy the most dangerous positions in the drug-dealing hierarchy. These findings suggest that elements of "balanced" drug policies may undermine each other and indicate the need for alternative interventions.