Globally, the opioid epidemic has not gone away, it has merely been muted by COVID-19. We have been very fortunate in Australia, but in countries such as Canada, the UK and the US it is a very different story.
Alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for death and disability in young people 1. Although people usually first start drinking alcohol at around 15-16 years of age 2, this can vary, and adolescents often follow different patterns or “trajectories” of drinking. The age at which an adolescent first consumes alcohol and how quickly they escalate their alcohol use may be important predictors of alcohol-related problems in early adulthood.
It is estimated that between 10.2 and 23.7 million people worldwide inject illicit drugs. Among people who inject drugs (PWID), those who engage in injecting risk behaviours are at increased of blood-borne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), as well as bacterial infections. Injecting risk behaviours can include sharing injecting equipment such as needles/syringes, filters and spoons, and reusing one’s own equipment for multiple injections.
Chronic pain affects one in five Australian adults, and approximately three million Australian adults use opioid medicines annually1, 2. “Faces of Pain”, the theme of National Pain Week 2020 (27 July - 2 August), reminds us that behind these numbers are people with their own stories, experiences and treatment goals.
For the past several years, there has been increased interest in the concept of the co-creation of new knowledge as an approach to more effectively operationalising models of research translation. Co-creation of new knowledge has the potential to combat research waste, increase the research capacity of service providers and improve service delivery.
But what is the co-creation of new knowledge?
Around one in two people who inject drugs (PWID) have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and potentially 6 million PWID globally are chronically infected.
A relatively neglected source of day-to-day ill-health among people who inject drugs is bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissue (SSTIs). Usually when we talk about infections among people who inject drugs, we are talking about blood borne viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C. These are highly prevalent in people who inject drugs, and have huge impacts on people’s health. SSTIs, abscesses and cellulitis mostly, receive far less focus even though these are quite common.
Mental health harms have become synonymous with people who use methamphetamines. However, individual study results are often inconsistent. This this has made it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the risks.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that people who use heroin, methamphetamine or crack cocaine are heavy users of emergency departments. The daily challenges of using these drugs mean that appointment-only services are difficult to navigate, and health is not always the top priority. Hospital-based studies appear to support this view, showing that frequent patients often use drugs and alcohol.