Perspectives on Health Among Adult Users of Illicit Stimulant Drugs in Rural Ohio

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Context: Although the nonmedical use of stimulant drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine is increasingly common in many rural areas of the United States, little is known about the health beliefs of people who use these drugs.

Purpose: This research describes illicit stimulant drug users' views on health and health-related concepts that may affect their utilization of health care services.

Methods: A respondent-driven sampling plan was used to recruit 249 not-in-treatment, nonmedical stimulant drug users who were residing in 3 rural counties in west central Ohio. A structured questionnaire administered by trained interviewers was used to collect information on a range of topics, including current drug use, self-reported health status, perceived need for substance abuse treatment, and beliefs about health and health services.

Findings: Participants reported using a wide variety of drugs nonmedically, some by injection. Alcohol and marijuana were the most commonly used drugs in the 30 days prior to the interview. Powder cocaine was used by 72.3% of the sample, crack by 68.3%, and methamphetamine by 29.7%. Fair or poor health status was reported by 41.3% of the participants. Only 20.9% of the sample felt they needed drug abuse treatment. Less than one third of the sample reported that they would feel comfortable talking to a physician about their drug use, and 65.1% said they preferred taking care of their problems without getting professional help.

Conclusions: Stimulant drug users in rural Ohio are involved with a range of substances and hold health beliefs that may impede health services utilization.

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