Introduction and Aims: Despite over-representation of Indigenous Australians in sentinel studies of injecting drug use, little is known about relevant patterns of drug use and dependence. This study compares drug dependence and possible contributing factors in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who inject drugs. Design and Methods: Respondent-driven sampling was used in major cities and ‘peer recruitment’ in regional towns of Queensland to obtain a community sample of Indigenous (n = 282) and non-Indigenous (n = 267) injectors. Data are cross sectional. Multinomial models were developed for each group to examine types of dependence on injected drugs (no dependence, methamphetamine-dependent only, opioid-dependent only, dependent on methamphetamine and opioids). Results: Around one-fifth of Indigenous and non-Indigenous injectors were dependent on both methamphetamine and opioids in the previous 12 months. Psychological distress was associated with dual dependence on these drugs for Indigenous [adjusted relative risk (ARR) 4.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.08–11.34] and non-Indigenous (ARR 4.14, 95% CI 1.59–10.78) participants. Unemployment (ARR 8.98, 95% CI 2.25–35.82) and repeated (> once) incarceration as an adult (ARR 3.78, 95% CI 1.43–9.97) were associated with dual dependence for Indigenous participants only. Indigenous participants had high rates of alcohol dependence, except for those dependent on opioids only. Discussion and Conclusions: The drug dependence patterns of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who inject drugs were similar, including the proportions dependent on both methamphetamine and opioids. However, for Indigenous injectors, there was a stronger association between drug dependence and contextual factors such as unemployment and incarceration. Expansion of treatment options and community-level programs may be required. [Smirnov A, Kemp R, Ward J, Henderson S, Williams S, Dev A, Najman J M. Patterns of drug dependence in a Queensland (Australia) sample of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who inject drugs. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:611-619].
- Indigenous population
- intravenous drug abuse
- social determinants of health
- substance dependence