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Use and assessment of complementary and alternative therapies by intravenous drug users.

02 Sep

Researchers at the U. of Maryland School of Medicine find that nearly half of intravenous drug users in needle exchange or methadone programs make use of complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies.

The Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore launched a cross-sectional survey of intravenous drug users to determine the extent they made use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

A total of 548 persons with a history of intravenous drug use, recruited from a needle-exchange program and a methadone maintenance clinic, both in Providence, Rhode Island, participated.

The research looked at the overall prevalence of any CAM therapy used in the past 6 months, the frequency of use for individual CAM therapies, the demographic and clinical characteristics associated with CAM users, the stated reasons for CAM use and the self-perceived effectiveness of the CAM therapies.

Of the 548 participants, 45% reported use of at least one CAM therapy. The top three therapies--religious healing, relaxation techniques, and meditation--were all from the mind-body domain. Having a higher education and lower self-rated health were the two strongest predictors of CAM use, followed by having a regular doctor or clinic, being white and younger.

There was a high level of self-perceived effectiveness of CAM therapies (4.1 on a scale of 1-5), and CAM users were likely to use CAM for reasons related to their addiction.

Citation: Manheimer E, Anderson BJ, Stein MD. Use and assessment of complementary and alternative therapies by intravenous drug users. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2003 May;29(2):401-13. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award