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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2014 Jan;33(1):71-7. doi: 10.1111/dar.12085.

Steroid users and the unique challenge they pose to needle and syringe program workers.

Author information

1
Faculty of Health, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia; Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS:

Needle and syringe programs (NSP), which provide sterile injecting equipment, are a cornerstone of Australia's drug harm reduction strategy and assist in reducing the spread of blood-borne virus infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, among people who inject drugs. Some reports suggest that steroid users are an increasing proportion of clientele at NSPs. In this research, we investigate the experience of NSP workers who come into contact with people who use steroids and other performance- and image-enhancing drugs (PIED).

DESIGN AND METHOD:

Thirteen NSP workers were recruited using purposive sampling strategies. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded for themes.

RESULTS:

There are three key findings of this study. Firstly, NSP workers do not feel well informed about the substances that PIED users are injecting. Secondly, they were unsure what equipment PIED users required. Thirdly, PIED users were perceived to differ from other client groups, and these differences impacted upon the level of rapport staff could build with this group.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:

PIED users pose unique challenges for NSP workers compared with other NSP client groups. The PIEDs used and the way in which they are used are substantially different compared with other NSP clients, and there appears to be a lack of knowledge within the workforce about these substances. This study highlights the need to engage in workforce training, but also the need to more effectively engage with PIED users in relation to effective harm reduction strategies.

KEYWORDS:

injecting; needle and syringe program; performance- and image-enhancing drug; policy; steroid

PMID:
24400704
DOI:
10.1111/dar.12085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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