Home > Syringe borrowing persists in Dublin despite harm reduction interventions.

Smyth, Bobby P and Barry, Joseph and Keenan, Eamon (2001) Syringe borrowing persists in Dublin despite harm reduction interventions. Addiction, 98, pp. 717-727.

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The aim of this study was to measure the frequency of syringe borrowing in young Irish injecting drug users (IDUs) and identify associated characteristics. Data on drug injecting and syringe borrowing in the previous six months was collected using a cross-sectional survey of 246 treated IDUs in addiction treatment services in Dublin. The median age was 22 years and the median length of injecting history was 19 months.

Syringe borrowing was reported by 173 (70.3%) participants. A multivariate analysis identified seven characteristics significantly associated with syringe borrowing. These included early school leaving and parental unemployment. IDUs with long injecting histories who had injected less frequently were more likely to borrow. Injection of more than one substance was significantly associated with borrowing of syringes. Syringe borrowing was associated with having more intimate social relationships with other IDUs. The study concluded that syringe borrowing is commonly practised by young IDUs. Those with a background of social deprivation are more likely to engage in this risk behaviour. IDUs who report borrowing are more intimately involved with other IDUs and tend to perceive less risk or dangerousness in borrowing. In addition to syringe exchange, there is a need to work cognitively with IDUs to identify and challenge assumptions that they may have regarding the safety involved in borrowing from others, particularly from those with whom they have close social relationships.

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