Measuring Patterns of Drug Use
from Drug Misuse Research mailing list)
currently involved in developing a monitoring and evaluation
system for a counselling service for young people with
subtstance misuse problems in Edinburgh. We are hoping
that the system will be able to give a better profile
of the clients attending, as well as some indication of
thing that we would like to be able to do is give a truer
picture of their pattern of drug use over the time they
are in contact with the project. We had thought about
using a pre & post intervention measure as an indication
of outcome, but while this is useful, it only captures
their level of drug use at one point in time.
anybody know of any way in which client's drug use can
be tracked and categorised in a way that is fairly operationalised
as opposed to subjectively placing them in a category
(i.e. stable, chaotic etc...)?
you in advance for your assistance.
Robson, Research Assistant, Centre for HIV/AIDS and Drug
Studies Lothian Health, Edinburgh
have been conducting surveys of drug use since 1984, primarily
of regular recreational users using anonymous self-report
questionnaires. To date, our database includes over 6000
categorise usage of each drug as follows:
- used less than 10 times
- use less than monthly
- use at least monthly, inc weekly use
- use every day, or virtually every day.
users - who have stopped
users - including those who state they might try a drug,
or would never use.
alse measure usage quantitavely:
spending on a particular drug (cross referenced with purchase
frequency, quantity and price paid)
used/bought per month, no of spliffs per day (cannabis)
use of spending on drugs as a reference point is that
it subdivides daily users into moderate or heavy users.
Daily use, by itself, does not represent heavy use (someone
drinking 2-3 cups of tea a day would not be a heavy user,
likewise someone smoking 5 cigarettes a day, or 1-5 spliffs
would be a moderate user of tobacco/cannabis).
you would like further information, check out the Regular
Users surveys (published-minus tables & graphs - on
our website), or telephone myself or Simon Davis at our
can send you as many survey forms as you like, as are
particularly keen to increase the number of responses
from problem drug users, particuarly of amphetamine, opiates,
and cocaine, who are under represented in our surveys.
read with interest your posting, however, just one tiny
point: I would suggest that a person who smokes five (or
three or four) spliffs a day should be categorised a 'heavy'
user, not a moderate user as you suggest. I know it's
splitting hairs, but five spliffs a day is a lot in my
Sutherland, Adolescent Assessment Services, Swansea
in mind that these are 'Eurospliffs', not US neat reefers,
let alone Caribbean 'ital' spliffs.
person smoking 5 spliffs a day mixed with tobacco will
only be using around 1g of cannabis (approx 150mg resin
or 200mg herbal in an average reefer), whereas a US smoker
would use around 500-1000mg in a single 'neat grass' joint.
Rastas or Coptics can smoke much more at a single time,
Bob Marley was reputed to get through an ounce (28g) per
5 'UK' reefers a day is to be classed as heavy use, then
there will be upwards of 1.5 million 'heavy' users in
the UK. I would prefer to reserve the descriptor of 'heavy'
users for the minority of 'daily' users who are really
'caning it', using over 2g per day (some up to 10g per
day). Roughly one in 20 regular users would smoke an ounce
a week (4g per day), or around 100,000 UK individuals.
Users II - UK Drugs Market Analysis, purchasing patterns
and prices 1997. IDMU Publications (text published on
IDMU website - minus graphics & tables)
think you make a very good point - however, some of the
UK spliffs I used to come across (before I became a respectable
pillar of the academic community of course), would have
put an elephant away!
I said though, I think you make an excellent point.