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ISSN: 2329-6488

Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence
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Research Article

Illicit Fentanyl use in Rural Australia - An Exploratory Study

Allan J1*, Herridge N2, Griffiths P3, Fisher A4, Clarke I5 and Campbell M6

1PhD, Senior Research Fellow & Deputy CEO at The Lyndon Community, Australia

2BSocWk, Drug and Alcohol Counsellor at Lyndon Community, Australia

3B. Public Relations, Strategic Communications Lead at Penington Institute, Australia

4Clinical leader at Murrimbidgee Local Health District, Australia

5Clinical nurse consultant at Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Australia

6Graduate Diploma in Counselling, Program Manager at Lyndon Community, Australia

*Corresponding Author:
Allan J
Research Project Manager
at The Lyndon Community, P.O. Box 9374
Orange East NSW 2800, Australia
Tel: + 0437-869- 033
Fax: 0263-61 7-400
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: March 04, 2015; Accepted date: April 03, 2015; Published date: April 06, 2015

Citation: Allan J, Herridge N, Griffiths P, Fisher A, Clarke I, et al. (2015) Illicit Fentanyl use in Rural Australia – An Exploratory Study. J Alcohol Drug Depend 3:196. doi: 10.4172/2329-6488.1000196

Copyright: © 2015 Allan J, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Introduction and Aims: Australia has seen an increase in the non-medical use of fentanyl transdermal patches (FTP) and associated deaths, with an over-representation of deaths in rural areas. Non-medical use of FTP involves high risk preparation and administration methods. However, no rural Australian drug user-focused research has been published to date. Frontline workers are without up-to-date harm reduction information. This study aimed to explore the perceptions and experiences of individuals using FTP for non-medical purposes.

Design and method: Interviews were conducted with adult participants (n=12) who had injected FTP twice or more and resided in regional/rural NSW or Victoria. The thematic data analysis identified key points around participant’s harm reduction practices, perceptions and experiences with using FTP.

Results: Fentanyl was easily obtained in rural locations. Study participants described high risk preparation and administration methods. Misinformation shared across peer networks was likely to contribute to overdose.

Discussion and Conclusion: Beliefs and practices about obtaining and using fentanyl are transmitted and reproduced across groups of illicit drug users, amplifying and distorting information about methods and harms of fentanyl use. However, fentanyl injectors were experienced illicit drug users who perceived they had good knowledge of ways to use fentanyl safely in spite of knowing people who had died from overdose. It is unlikely this group would seek out harm reduction information. Peer networks are critical sites of harm reduction action that are challenging to infiltrate in the rural context where dispersed populations, distance and risks associated with disclosing illicit drug use are significant barriers to disseminating harm reduction information. Peer-to-peer education is a costeffective method of disseminating correct health information and harm reduction messages in dispersed and isolated populations.

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