Interest in Getting Help to Reduce or Stop Substance Use Among Syringe Exchange Clients Who Use Opioids

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Opioid use is a growing problem in the United States. Despite existence of effective treatments (eg, opioid agonist medication), most people with opioid use disorder do not receive treatment. Increasing treatment receipt is an essential component of the response to the opioid crisis. We examined factors associated with interest in getting help to reduce or stop substance use among syringe exchange program (SEP) clients who reported using opioids.


Surveys were administered at 17 SEPs across Washington State during 2015; 436 respondents who reported recent opioid use and not receiving current treatment were eligible for this analysis. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to examine factors associated with being somewhat or very interested in getting help, including sociodemographic characteristics, substance use behaviors and outcomes, and use of health care services.


Most participants reported interest in getting help (77.5%). Factors positively associated with interest included female gender (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.79; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03, 3.11), having an abscess (AOR = 1.87; 95% CI: 1.02, 3.40), and having received treatment (AOR = 4.83; 95% CI: 1.77, 13.14) or other services (AOR = 3.01; 95% CI: 1.06, 8.54) in the past year. Recent methamphetamine use was negatively associated with interest in getting help (AOR = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.91).


In this survey of SEP clients, interest in getting help to reduce or stop substance use was prevalent and varied across subpopulations of persons using opioids. Findings point to SEPs as an important venue for treatment engagement, and suggest subgroups who may be targeted for engagement interventions.

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