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.
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
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.
This project examines self-reported experiences, among an Australian sample of people who regularly use illicit drugs, of the following:
- COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, isolation/quarantine practices, and experiences of restrictions related to COVID-19.
- Impacts of COVID-19 on patterns of substance use, illicit drug markets, and harms (e.g., overdose, crime).
- Impacts of COVID-19 on access to and engagement with drug treatment and harm reduction services.
- 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.
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
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.