REACH researchers Roberto Abadie, Bilal Khan, and Kirk Dombrowski recently contributed to a paper published in the December issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study’s aim was to examine substance use and polysubstance use behaviors in Puerto Rico’s PWID communities. Polysubstance use is defined as “consumption of two or more substances during a specified time period, including simultaneous use of multiple substances in a single occasion or concurrent use of multiple substances on separate occasions within a short period of time.” Comparisons were made between the sample of 455 urban PWID and 315 rural PWID included in the study.
The team found that polysubstance use is normative in both rural and urban populations, meaning it is a reality for PWID communities in most places. However, polysubstance use and correlates varied much across the rural and urban Puerto Rican populations. For instance, the urban polysubstance use behaviors represented a wide variety of use whereas rural polysubstance use was restricted to just three main categories. Moreover, urban polysubstance use classes were found to have a higher frequency of risk behaviors. The findings suggest that polysubstance use occurs everywhere, but its characteristics vary greatly due to a community’s geography, economy, and culture.