A DRNS-supported collaboration has received £28,000 funding from the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people who use drugs in Scotland. Of the 55 funded research projects, this is the only one to specifically address the health of people who use illicit drugs.
Led by Professor Catriona Matheson (DRNS and University of Stirling), the research team includes Dr Angus Bancroft (University of Edinburgh), Dr Tessa Parkes (DRNS and University of Stirling) Josh Dumbrell (DRNS Community Researcher) and Joe Schofield (DRNS Coordinator). The research team told us:
We know that people who use drugs (PWUD) are at increased risk of acquiring and transmitting the virus through their social drug purchasing and using behaviours. Lack of availability of illicit drugs may put some PWUD at increased risk of COVID-19 through changing patterns of drug purchasing / use whilst others may reduce or stop drug use in response to limited supply or to avoid social contact.
Changes to drug markets and the provision of harm reduction and treatment services may expose PWUD to additional harm through overdose or relapse from recovery. We will interview PWUD to understand and describe the current risk environment and implications for public health responses to Covid-19.
This is a rapid research project, designed to be completed within six months. The findings will be shared with people who use drugs, affected communities, service providers, planners and policy makers, and posted on the DRNS website. The aim is to disseminate learning to help inform policy and practice responses to mitigate harms to people who use drugs during the current pandemic.