Facilitating Treatment Entry among Out-of-Treatment Injection Drug Users

by Robert E. Booth, Carol Kwiatkowski, Martin Y. Iguchi, Francesca Pinto, Debbie John


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High-risk injection practices are common among injecting drug users (IDUs), even following intervention efforts. Moreover, relapse to risk behaviors has been reported among those who initiate risk reduction. Substance abuse treatment offers the potential to reduce or eliminate injecting risk behaviors through drug cessation. This study examines the effectiveness of two intervention strategies in facilitating treatment entry among out-of-treatment IDUs: motivational interviewing (MI), an intervention developed to help individuals resolve their ambivalence about behavior change, and free treatment for 90 days. These conditions were compared with an intervention focusing on a hierarchy of safer injecting practices, referred to here as risk reduction (RR), and no free treatment. Overall, 42% of study participants entered treatment. No significant differences were found between MI and RR; however, 52% of those assigned free treatment entered compared with 32% for those who had to pay.

Originally published in: Public Health Reports, v. 113, Supplement 1, June 1998, pp. 116-128.

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