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PrEP Care Continuum Engagement Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: Rural and Urban Differences in Stigma and Social Infrastructure

Walters, Suzan M; Frank, David; Van Ham, Brent; Jaiswal, Jessica; Muncan, Brandon; Earnshaw, Valerie; Schneider, John; Friedman, Samuel R; Ompad, Danielle C
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that prevents HIV acquisition, yet PrEP uptake has been low among people who inject drugs. Stigma has been identified as a fundamental driver of population health and may be a significant barrier to PrEP care engagement among PWID. However, there has been limited research on how stigma operates in rural and urban settings in relation to PrEP. Using in-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 57) we explore PrEP continuum engagement among people actively injecting drugs in rural and urban settings. Urban participants had more awareness and knowledge. Willingness to use PrEP was similar in both settings. However, no participant was currently using PrEP. Stigmas against drug use, HIV, and sexualities were identified as barriers to PrEP uptake, particularly in the rural setting. Syringe service programs in the urban setting were highlighted as a welcoming space where PWID could socialize and therefore mitigate stigma and foster information sharing.
PMCID:8501360
PMID: 34626265
ISSN: 1573-3254
CID: 5067872

Informal coping strategies among people who use opioids during COVID-19: A thematic analysis of Reddit forums

Arshonsky, Josh; Krawczyk, Noa; Bunting, Amanda M; Frank, David; Friedman, Samuel R; Bragg, Marie A
BACKGROUND:The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how people seeking to reduce opioid use access treatment services and navigate efforts to abstain from using opioids. Social distancing policies have drastically reduced access to many forms of social support, but they may have also upended some perceived barriers to reducing or abstaining from opioid use. OBJECTIVE:This qualitative study aimed to identify informal coping strategies for reducing and abstaining from opioid use among Reddit users who have posted in opioid-related subreddits at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS:We extracted data from two major opioid-related subreddits. Thematic data analysis was used to evaluate subreddit posts dated from March 5, 2020 to May 13, 2020 that referenced COVID-19 and opioid use, resulting in a final sample of 300 posts that were coded and analyzed. RESULTS:Of the 300 subreddit posts, 100 discussed at least one type of informal coping strategy. Those strategies included: psychological and behavioral coping skills, adopting healthy habits, and using substances to manage withdrawal symptoms. Twelve subreddit posts explicitly mentioned using social distancing as an opportunity for cessation or reduction of opioid use. CONCLUSIONS:Reddit discussion forums provided a community for people to share strategies for reducing opioid use and support others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Future research needs to assess the impact of COVID-19 on opioid use behaviors, especially during periods of limited treatment access and isolation, as these can inform future efforts in curbing the opioid epidemic and other substance related harms.
PMID: 35084345
ISSN: 2561-326x
CID: 5154652

Lessons from the First Wave of COVID-19 for Improved Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Treatment: Benefits of Easier Access, Extended Take Homes, and New Delivery Modalities

Walters, Suzan M; Perlman, David C; Guarino, Honoria; Mateu-Gelabert, Pedro; Frank, David
PMID: 35443862
ISSN: 1532-2491
CID: 5314082

Socially-supportive norms and mutual aid of people who use opioids: An analysis of Reddit during the initial COVID-19 pandemic

Bunting, Amanda M; Frank, David; Arshonsky, Joshua; Bragg, Marie A; Friedman, Samuel R; Krawczyk, Noa
BACKGROUND:Big events (i.e., unique historical disruptions) like the COVID-19 epidemic and its associated period of social distancing can transform social structures, social interactions, and social norms. Social distancing rules and the fear of infection have greatly reduced face-to-face interactions, increased loneliness, reduced ties to helping institutions, and may also have disrupted the opioid use behaviors of people who use drugs. This research used Reddit to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the social networks and social processes of people who use opioids. METHODS:Data were collected from the social media forum, Reddit.com. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. (March 5, 2020, to May 13, 2020), 2,000 Reddit posts were collected from the two most popular opioid subreddits (r/OpiatesRecovery, r/Opiates). Posts were reviewed for relevance to COVID-19 and opioid use resulting in a final sample of 300. Thematic analysis was guided by the Big Events framework. RESULTS:The COVID-19 pandemic was found to create changes in the social networks and daily lives among persons who use opioids. Adaptions to these changes shifted social networks leading to robust social support and mutual aid on Reddit, including sharing and seeking advice on facing withdrawal, dealing with isolation, managing cravings, and accessing recovery resources. CONCLUSIONS:Reddit provided an important source of social support and mutual aid for persons who use opioids. Findings indicate online social support networks are beneficial to persons who use opioids, particularly during big events where isolation from other social support resources may occur.
PMID: 33757708
ISSN: 1879-0046
CID: 4822642

"I'm Going to Stop Myself Before Someone Stops Me": Complicating Narratives of Volitional Substance Use Treatment

Frank, David; Walters, Suzan M.
ISI:000679099400001
ISSN: 2297-7775
CID: 5016692

"That's No Longer Tolerated": Policing Patients' Use of Non-opioid Substances in Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Frank, David
The current overdose crisis in the United States emphasizes the importance of providing substance use treatment programs that are not only effective but tailored to meet the specific needs of the populations they serve. While Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) is considered to be among the best strategies for reducing rates of opioid-involved overdose, its ability to attract and maintain patients may be hindered by a recent focus on policing the non-opioid substance use of people on the program. This paper uses interview data from treatment providers to examine how clinicians conceptualize and organize MMT in regards to patients' use of non-opioid drugs. Responses demonstrate that some treatment providers are increasingly monitoring their patients' use of non-opioid substances and punishing them for infractions, up to and including discharge from treatment. This approach will likely result in increasing rates of patient dropout and a lack of new admissions among people who use non-opioid substances. This article argues that including non-opioid substances in MMT's mandate restricts its ability to improve public health, including by preventing overdoses, and recommends instead that MMT adopt a more individualized approach, shaped by the needs and goals of the patient rather than those of the clinician.
PMID: 32996399
ISSN: 2159-9777
CID: 4631352

Approaches to the treatment of lithium-resistant mania

Menza, M A; Easton, J; Flaum, M A; Frank, D L; Goldberg, I C; Michell, M Y
PMID: 2907168
ISSN: 0732-0868
CID: 881192

Alcohol-induced liver disease

Frank D; Raicht RF
PMID: 3887972
ISSN: 0145-6008
CID: 17789