De Regenboog Groep/Correlation network is involved
in a 3 year research project, in the framework
of the ERANID research program.
The Dutch part of the project is financed by ZonMW.
Centre for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research, University of Hamburg (ZIS)
Newcastle University (UNEW), England
Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej (APS), Poland
Regenboog Groep, the Netherlands
University of Amsterdam, Bongers Institute, the Netherlands
Office of the Government of the Czech Republic
The project aims to increase our understanding of why some illicit stimulant users initiate or increase consumption, while others reduce or stop use entirely over their life course. In particular, we are interested in exploring the impact of individual differences, social influences, environment and culture on drug use pathways. We will interview a range of different types of stimulant users (those in formal treatment, ‘recreational’ non-dependent stimulant users and non-users) as well as administering a questionnaire to a wider population of stimulant users across five European countries, to examine which factors shape individual (non)-drug use ‘careers’. This information will help policy makers and practitioners develop more tailored, evidence-based drug treatment services in the future.
Amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), such as amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA, are one of the most commonly used drugs in Europe. However there is limited evidence available on what shapes the course of individual drug use over time, although the theoretical evidence base suggests the influence of a range of factors, including individual differences, social dynamics and environment/culture. This study seeks to strengthen transnational research to better support our understanding of drug use pathways of stimulant users in Europe, a highly diverse group of drug users with different consumption patterns and varying drug use motives.
This project aims to examine pathways of drug use among users of illicit stimulants in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic. The project will explore why some individuals exposed to ATS do not start to consume, some users manage to keep their stimulant consumption on a comparatively controlled level and/or stop consumption altogether, while others switch to risky consumption patterns and/or develop dependency.
We are also interested in the relationship that stimulant users have with other illicit and licit substances, especially alcohol and new psychoactive substances (“legal highs”). By analysing these individual pathways or trajectories of drug use “careers” the project seeks to identify and understand potential risk and/or resilience factors that might contribute to risky and dependent drug use respectively.
We will use mixed methods to generate a rich, contextualised understanding of the multiple factors (familial, social and occupational situation, critical life events, general risk behaviour, mental and physical health, satisfaction with life) that shape individual drug use “careers”. The study will be sequential, comprising two core Modules. Module 1 will use qualitative methods (semi-structured interviews with n=270 participants) to explore individual experiences of, and perspectives on, dynamics of change in stimulant consumption patterns. Module 2 will use quantitative methods (structured questionnaires with n = 2000 respondents) to validate and enhance the generalizability of the interview findings. Recruitment of different types of stimulant user, ex-user and non-user will be realized via modified snowball-sampling using dependent ATS users who are in treatment as seeds.
Data integration will take place at two key points. First, during the study, where the findings from the first qualitative interviews will inform the design of the structured questionnaire. Second, at the end of both Modules, where mixed methods data will be brought together to generate an indepth, contextualised understanding of the research topic.
Increased understanding of which factors contribute to the development of risky drug use patterns in some individuals, and which factors appear to facilitate change toward less risky drug use patterns in others, will enable policy makers and practitioners to develop more effective stimulant prevention programs in the future. By examining different types of stimulant users (including ex-users and non-users) information will be generated which will be important for universal prevention (targeting general populations), selective prevention (focussing vulnerable groups) and indicated prevention (aiming at vulnerable groups) as well as for tailored treatment options for ATS user.