Two BCCSU researchers receive Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee Awards

published on July 17, 2019

Two BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) researchers are among the new recipients of Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) 2019 Research Trainee Awards.

This year’s MSFHR Research Trainee Award recipients include BCCSU post-doctoral research fellows Paxton Bach and Hudson Reddon.

The MSFHR Research Trainee Program supports health researchers in the training phase of their research career to enable career development and the long-term success of the BC health research landscape.

Read more about their research projects below.

Prevalence, Patterns, And Harms Associated With The Co-Injection Of Illicit Opioids And Crystal Methamphetamine

Crystal methamphetamine use is associated with a wide array of physical and social harms. In spite of this, its prevalence is rising in many parts of North America. Several small studies have suggested increasing rates of co-injection of methamphetamine and opioids, though no research has focused on the specific harms associated with this trend. In Vancouver, preliminary reports have noted a similar pattern, in a context where fentanyl has become the most widely used form of illicit opioid.

In this study we propose to use a prospective cohort of people who inject drugs to ask how trends in the co-injection of methamphetamine and opioids are changing over time, and to explore the health consequences associated with this pattern of substance use as it relates to overdose risk and response to treatment.

Answering these questions will provide insight into important changes in the evolving epidemiology of substance use, and will provide information on potential implications. An appreciation of these changing patterns is not only crucial in developing evidence-based harm reduction and treatment strategies, but also in understanding how to devote treatment resources appropriately in the fight to reduce opioid-related deaths.

Investigating The Impact Of Evolving Cannabis Access And Use On High-Risk Drug Use Behaviours And Addiction Treatment

Cannabis remains the most widely produced, trafficked and consumed illicit drug worldwide, and at this time Canada and many other countries are implementing alternative regulatory approaches to cannabis. While research on cannabis has traditionally focused on the harms of cannabis use, an emerging body of evidence suggests that cannabis use can also alter high-risk drug practices, such as reducing cocaine use, opioid use and associated overdose. Much of this work suggests that cannabis is often used as a substitute for harder drugs of abuse which may have important implications for health policy responses to the current opioid epidemic in British Columbia.

However, this evidence has been primarily cross-sectional and ecological in nature, and lacking are rigorous longitudinal studies unpacking the precise impacts of cannabis use and evolving cannabis policy on the development of high-risk drug use behaviours. Further, the impacts of cannabis use on HIV and addiction treatment outcomes remains unclear. In light of the recent legalization of non-medical cannabis, identifying the impacts of cannabis on high-risk substance use and drug treatment outcomes will be important for informing clinical and public health practice, as well as policy.