Assisted injection provider practices and motivations in Los Angeles and San Francisco California 2016–18

Sarah Brothers, Alex H. Kral, Lynn Wenger, Kelsey Simpson, Ricky N. Bluthenthal

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Background: Assisted injection is a high-risk and common practice among people who inject drugs (PWID) and occurs for diverse reasons according to qualitative research. To develop interventions for reducing assisted injection risks, it is important to understand the practices of PWID who provide injection assistance, including their motivations for providing assistance. Methods: Using follow-up data from an efficacy trial among PWID recruited in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA (n=601), we present descriptive statistics on motivations for providing injection assistance and use multivariable logistic regression modelling to examine factors associated with these motivations. Results: PWID provided injection assistance most commonly to friends and acquaintances. A quarter provided assistance on a daily basis. The most common motivations for providing assistance were skill and injury prevention. PWID also provided assistance to stop pestering and for compensation in money or drugs. In separate models examining factors associated with the five main motivations, we found injury prevention to be associated with skill injecting others, neck injection, methamphetamine use, and recycling income. Pestering was associated with injury prevention, neck and hand injection, speedball use, and syringe selling. Skill was associated with injury prevention, neck and hand injection, being physically assaulted, and age. Providing assistance for money was associated with providing assistance for food or drugs, armpit injections, being female, and providing assistance more frequently. Providing assistance for drugs was associated with compensation in food or money, goofball injection, selling drugs, and panhandling. Conclusion: Providing injection assistance is associated with injection needs of recipients and drug scene participation. We urgently need new interventions for reducing assisted injection risks. Since injection providers report being motivated by skill and to prevent injury, interventions such as training in safer injection techniques are likely to be met with enthusiasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103052
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

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