People who inject drugs
In 2015 the Prekursor Foundation (still as the Harm Reduction Foundation at that time), conducted a project among people who inject drugs. Its aim was to identify and characterize their needs, the satisfaction of which would provide an incentive to abandon risky behaviors and undertake treatment for addiction, and to identify factors that could influence the improvement of safety related to injecting drug use. An additional goal was to identify problems that block satisfaction of needs important in the process of dealing with addiction. The authors hypothesized that engaging in risky behaviors (i.e. not exchanging needles and syringes, sharing tools needed to prepare substances, unprotected sexual contacts) is closely related to how people function, what resources they have available, and which of their needs are met.
The essence of the study was to provide a complete picture of PWID functioning in the context of HIV and HCV prevention and reduction of harms related to drug use.. Since substance use is part of a complex life situation, identifying the needs and problems of PWIDs made it possible to determine what should be changed in their situation in order to reduce the risks associated with injecting drug use. It should be emphasized that projects of this type using qualitative research are very important for the quality and effectiveness of work in the field of harm reduction, because they show where there are gaps in the support system and which needs of clients are not being met.
We boost knowledge
A pilot study of testing psychoactive substances obtained directly from people who use so-called “legal highs” (New Psychoactive Substances) in Poland was conducted by a consortium of four entities: PREKURSOR Foundation for Social Policy (leader), Social Drug Policy Initiative, National Institute of Medicines and Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology. The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and funded under the National Health Program 2016-2020.
The study “We burn knowledge” had a pilot character. Its purpose was, on the one hand, a feasibility study and, on the other hand, to test the methodology.
The pilot demonstrated the feasibility of the study in the legal state until the amendment of the Law on Counteracting Drug Addiction in 2020.
After the amendment, possession of new psychoactive substances became a prohibited act, so since then such a study in the part concerning testing these substances is not feasible in the way tested in the pilot study. Other solutions must be sought, as monitoring the psychoactive substances market seems essential from the perspective of building an information base for rational policies.
One of the sources of data acquisition in the new legal situation may be seizures made by law enforcement agencies. This is a safe way to obtain samples, but one must keep in mind that the results are likely to be skewed. Another solution could be anonymous submission of samples by people who use drugs. This solution may raise risks on the part of participants related to the criminality of possession of these substances. In addition, it is difficult to create a mechanism to motivate PWUD to send substances to offset this risk.