Ariel Ford

Major and Classification

Sophomore, Biological Sciences, Regulatory Medicine

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Ricky Bluthenthal – Keck, Population & Public Health Sciences


Dornsife – Biological Sciences

Research Gateway Project

Substance Abuse Treatment Readiness and Motivation For People
Who Inject Drugs: A Review of the Literature

Project Abstract

Substance use disorders (SUDs), one of the most deadly and expensive public health crises the country has ever faced, are a growing problem in the United States. For people who inject drugs (PWID) specifically, unsafe syringe practices result in increased risks for HIV, hepatitis C, skin and bacterial infections (Henderson et al., 2003). Many available pharmacological and behavioral treatments have shown to be effective in treating SUDs, and access to these treatments has increased significantly in recent years. However, utilization of these resources 9 remains low among PWID due to medical stigma, lack of insurance, and other barriers that can impede treatment entry, retention, and engagement (Frost et al., 2018). More research must be done in improving treatment programs to account for specific needs of this population, ensuring that they help patients remain engaged and break the cycle of substance abuse. Health outcomes following SUD treatment are associated with the patients’ motivation to change and seek help in lowering drug use, commonly described as treatment readiness. Countless treatment readiness measures have been developed to predict retention, relapse, and other health outcomes for SUD patients. In this paper, I performed a meta-analysis to thoroughly assess a wide range of these measures in a standardized manner. Studies which have utilized these measures among PWID were compared and analyzed for accuracy, associations with drug problem severity, and possible limitations across diverse populations. Out of 10 articles used, 6 consisted of marginalized racial and ethnic groups as sample majorities, with many participants also unhoused, incarcerated, or living in poverty. Correlates of readiness measures mostly included one’s recognition of their problem drug use and intention to quit drug use by setting goals. Although readiness prior to treatment was often high, overall utilization and retention remained low in most studies. These findings suggest that these readiness measures should be improved and tailored to account for barriers accessing treatment, lack of education, and comorbidities often present in PWID.