September 26, 2017
Elizabeth Evans, an assistant professor in the Community Health Education program, recently collaborated on a journal article appearing in the International Journal of Drug Policy. The paper examines the effect of additional substance use on the outcome of drug treatments for those who primarily use heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine. The authors point out that there are currently few clinical guidelines available for substance use treatment that considers how multiple drug use impacts treatment, even though research shows high levels of reported polydrug use.
The article, titled “Polydrug Use and Its Association with Drug Treatment Outcomes Among Primary Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Cocaine Users,” analyzed data collected from four studies in California that surveyed people who use illicit drugs across several decades. The researchers studied how secondary use of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines influenced treatment and the primary use of heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine.
Their results “suggest that secondary substance use compromises the effects of drug treatment.” However, the results showed directionally diverse results depending on the substance combinations. The authors conclude that interactions between polydrug use should be considered when developing treatment options.
Elizabeth Evans, who joined the UMass Amherst faculty this September, is currently the Principal Investigator on a pilot study that adapts digital storytelling methods with and for homeless women veterans to support self-management of substance abuse recovery and on a mixed methods study of gender differences in use and outcomes of complementary and integrative healthcare by military veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain.