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Australians’ Drug use: Adapting to Pandemic Threats (ADAPT) Study

ADAPT
Date Commenced:
April 2020
Expected Date of Completion:
April 2023
Project Members: 
image - Amy Peacock
Senior Research Fellow (UNSW)
Ph +61 (2) 9385 0333
image - Rachel Sutherland 0
Post-Doc Fellow
Ph 02 9385 0227
image - Sonja Memedovic
Research Fellow
Ph +61 (2) 9385 0326
Project Main Description: 

ADAPT stands for Australians’ Drug Use: Adapting to Pandemic Threats. The ADAPT study is exploring the short and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experiences of Australians who use illicit drugs.

For more information about the ADAPT Study please visit the project website or contact the study team via adaptstudy@unsw.edu.au.

Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Mohamed Hammoud, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney

Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania

Dr Monica Barratt, Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University

Professor Nadine Ezard, Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney

Professor Paul Dietze, Behaviour and Health Risks Program, Burnet Institute

Dr Caroline Salom, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland

Associate Professor Caitlin Hughes, Flinders University 

Rationale: 

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions imposed by governments to reduce transmission have likely generated unparalleled impacts on illicit drug markets, drug use patterns and related harms (e.g. fatal and non-fatal overdose, drug dependence and withdrawal). People who use drugs may also be particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to underlying health issues, stigma, social marginalisation and higher economic and social vulnerabilities, including a lack of access to housing and health care. At the same time, treatment and harm reduction services are grappling with sustaining service delivery in the face of rising demand, restrictions on client contact, and redeployment of clinical staff.

Government health departments and other stakeholders are urgently requesting information about the impacts of COVID-19 on people who regularly use illicit drugs to inform changes in policy and practice. This project will provide critical, timely information to address government and other stakeholders’ immediate information needs, as well as measure longer-term impacts of COVID-19 to facilitate sustained efforts to minimise harms.

Aims: 

This project examines self-reported experiences, among an Australian sample of people who regularly use illicit drugs, of the following:  

  1. COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, isolation/quarantine practices, and experiences of restrictions related to COVID-19.
  2. Impacts of COVID-19 on patterns of substance use, illicit drug markets, and harms (e.g., overdose, crime).
  3. Impacts of COVID-19 on access to and engagement with drug treatment and harm reduction services.
  4. Impacts of COVID-19 on individual-level key determinants of health (e.g., employment, housing and living conditions, income, education, access to health services) and on broader mental and physical health.
Design and Method: 

This project comprises an online cross-sectional survey of people who were regularly using illicit drugs prior to the emergence of COVID-19, embedded within which is a longitudinal cohort who will complete six additional waves of surveys.

Participants are given the option of either:

  • Joining the cohort (completing the baseline survey and follow-up surveys in 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years and 3 years), or
  • Taking part in the baseline survey only
Benefits: 

This research project will provide critical, timely information to address government and other stakeholders’ immediate information needs, as well as measure longer-term impacts of COVID-19 to facilitate sustained efforts to minimise harms. Results will be disseminated in a prompt fashion.

Project Research Area: 
Project Status: 
Current