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Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 21, Issue 1, 2018. Pages: 11-16
Published Online: 1 March 2018

Copyright © 2018 ICMPE.


 

How does Economic Recession Affect Substance Use? A Reality Check with Clients of Drug Treatment Centres

Pol Bruguera,1 Jillian Reynolds,2 Eilish Gilvarry,3 Fleur Braddick,4 Abdul Latheef Marath-Veettil,5 Peter Anderson,6 Zofia Mielecka-Kubien,5 Eileen Kaner,6 Antoni Gual1

1Grup Recerca Addicions Clínic (GRAC-GRE), Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clínic i Provincial de Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain & Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain
2Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya -AQuAS-), Barcelona, Spain
3Institute of Health & Society, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. & Northumberland,Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, U.K.
4Grup Recerca Addicions Clínic (GRAC-GRE), Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clínic i Provincial de Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
5Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, U.K.
6Institute of Health & Society, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. & Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
7Department of Statistics, Econometrics and Mathematics, University of Economics, Katowice, Poland

* Correspondence to: Pol Bruguera, C/ Villarroel 170,08036 Barcelona, Spain.
Tel.: +34-93-2275400
Email: pbruguer@clinic.cat

Source of Funding: This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Drug Prevention and Information Programme of the European Union, under grant agreement nº JUST/2013/DPIP/AG 4755 -- Looking at Economic Analyses of Drugs and Economic Recession (LEADER), and Hospital Clínic, under the grant ``Premis fi de residència Emili Letang''.

Abstract
 

Introduction: The relationship between economic downturns and substance use has been studied in numerous economic crises occurring worldwide, but the precise relationship between the two remains unclear.

Aims: The aim of the present study was to undertake a survey on behaviour and perspectives related to the latest European economic crisis among illegal drug users attending substance treatment services.

Design and Methods: We conducted a questionnaire-based survey in drug dependence treatment settings, in three geographically different jurisdictions (England, Catalonia and Poland), including 180 drug users.

Results: Most of the participants of the survey (58.3%) reported an increase in drug use during the crisis, compared with only 25.6% of the sample who reported a decrease in drug use. The main reason given for increasing drug use was greater amount of free time available. Other important reasons were greater substance availability during this period, more stress at work and seeking comfort in response to the loss of a stable source of income, social status and/or family. Those who reported cutting down on the amount of drug use during the economic recession, reported economic difficulties as the main reason. Other important factors were family and friends' economic problems and the fear of losing their job. Illegal drug use reduction was compensated by increased smoking in 46.3% of the patients, and increased alcohol use in 39.4%.

Discussion and Conclusions: While this result has potential interest for those developing policies and interventions to reduce drug-related harm, longitudinal studies and future research involving a broader population of drug-users (including those not in treatment) could shed further light on these behavioural mechanisms linking changes in drug use with economic recessions.

Received 16 April 2017; accepted 22 January 2018

Copyright 2018 ICMPE