Identification of harm exposure levels based on user patterns among drug users in treatment and the role of predisposing, information and awareness factors
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Objectives: We sought to identify clusters with different levels of harm exposure based on drug consumption patterns among drug users in treatment and assess the role of predisposing, information and awareness socio-demographic factors among the clusters identified. Methods: This study was cross-sectional in its design. Drug users (n=410) completed questionnaires based on Treatment Demand Indicator as defined by the EMCDDA, after requesting a service or entering an inpatient or outpatient treatment setting (n=11) in Luxembourg throughout the year 2019. The study sample was described with regard to their socio-demographic characteristics and drug consumption patterns using descriptive statistics. Subsequently, a two-step cluster analysis was conducted to identify drug users with different levels of harm exposure based on their drug consumption patterns. Thereafter, the relevance of the identified clusters was assessed regarding various predisposing, information and awareness socio-demographic factors using ANOVA and Chi-square analysis. Results: The study revealed three groups who differed on their levels of harm exposure based on age at first illegal drug consumption, polysubstance use, mode of consumption, frequency of consumption and overdose. With regards to predisposing, awareness and information factors, the three groups differed significantly on age, judicial situation, professional situation, living situation and age at the end of education. A higher level of drug exposure was associated with a more precarious judicial situation and an earlier ending of schooling. Conclusions: The results of this study support the idea that groups of drug users with different levels of harm exposure exist. These differences in harm exposure should be taken into account to increase the effectiveness of proposed interventions. Moreover, the study reveals the significance of predisposing and awareness factors, as some socio-demographic characteristics act as protective factors including age, a more stable professional situation and living situation as these factors differed significantly among the three levels of harm exposure.