Victoria street-involved adults who use substances

CISUR has conducted twice-annual surveys of street-involved adults in Victoria who actively use substances since 2008. In the initial two years, participants had to be actively using injection drugs; in 2010, criteria were changed to include any adults actively using substances other than alcohol and marijuana. In order to provide a current snapshot based on a suitable sample size, this section of the website will show information based on data between 2010 and 2015, unless otherwise noted. For further information on the surveys, including the survey instrument used, please see the high-risk populations section of the AOD Monitoring Project site.

The information presented here is just a fraction of the data we collect. You can find more data in our data tables, or contact us directly.

demographics of street-involved adults surveyed

The average age of street-involved adults who use substances surveyed since 2010 is 41, with the population primarily being straight males. Of all three high-risk surveys (street-involved youth and adults who use substances, as well as adults using substances in social settings), these adults have the highest population of respondents identifying as indigenous (25%). The majority (70%) of respondents either lived in a shelter or had no fixed address.

Download our poster: Alcohol and drug use among adults in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.

most common substances used by street-involved adults in victoria

Looking at an average from 2010-2015, we see that tobacco, marijuana and alcohol are the top three substances used by this population in the past 30 days. However, if we look at trends over time, we see that use of some of these substances is decreasing.

substance use trends over time for street-involved adults in Victoria

When we look at trends over time, we see the use of alcohol (p<.05) and crack cocaine (p<.001) is significantly decreasing among street-involved adults who use substances, with reported crack use going from 72.5% in 2010 to 30% in 2015. Meanwhile, reported use of heroin (p<.001) and crystal meth (p<.001) in the past 30 days has increased significantly. Reported use of heroin went from 21.9% in 2010 to 41.3% in 2015, while crystal meth rose from 22.5% to 62.5% in the same time frame. In 2015, the same number of respondents reported using alcohol in the past 30 days as those who said they had used crystal meth (62.5%).

A chart of injection drug use among street-involved adults in BC

An average of 63% of street-involved adults who actively used substances reported having ever injected drugs (2010-2015). However, when asked if they had injected drugs in the past 30 days, that number fell to 37%. Heroin, prescription opiates and crystal meth ranked as the top three substances injected.

A chart of injection drug use among street-involved adults in BC

If we look at trends over time, injection-drug use (past 30 days) has seen a significant increase (p<.001) from 2010-2015 among street-involved adults using substances, with 44% of street-involved adults surveyed in 2015 saying they had injected a substance in the past 30 days vs 27.5% in 2010. Crystal meth has also been increasing in popularity amongst people injecting drugs, having been in the top three most-injected substances since 2013, and surpassing heroin as the most injected substance for 2015.

non beverage alcohol and fentanyl consumption among street-involved adults in victoria

In 2015, we started gathering information on synthetic opioid fentanyl, as well as the consumption of non-beverage alcohol, such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer. 

Download our poster: Alcohol and drug use among adults in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.

overdose rates among street-involved adults in victoria

The majority of street-involved adults who used substances surveyed reported experiencing at least one type of alcohol-related and one type of other drug-related harm in the past 12 months (2010-2015). More than half (60%) had reported experiencing an overdose in their lifetime; respondents reported an average of five overdoses in their lifetime.  For more details on specific types of harms experienced, see the harms related to substance use section.

harm reduction and street-involved adults in victoria

In terms of harm reduction, the majority of street-involved adults using drugs by injection had accessed clean needles in the past 30 days and 37% usually injected with others. A high proportion of adults using crack accessed clean crack pipes of mouth pieces in the past 30 days. Nearly 40% said they had received overdose training in 2015, with 42% stating said training had included the use of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversing drug. The overwhelming majority said they would support or use a supervised consumption service in Victoria.

treatment and street-involved adults in victoria

Of the street-involved adults who used substances, about 1/4 were in some form of treatment, the most popular being withdrawal management.

Download our poster: Alcohol and drug use among adults in street-based settings using substances

Note: Respondents had to be actively using substances at least once per month over the past six months to be eligible for the survey. These statistics are not necessarily representative of the average street-involved youth, street-involved adult, post-secondary or general populations. For more information on our high-risk surveys, please see the High Risk section of the AOD Monitoring Project.