Causes and Health Consequences of Synthetic Drug Abuse


This project is a mixed-methods, longitudinal, and community-based study of the causes and public health consequences of synthetic drug abuse in China. It develops and empirically tests a conceptual model that integrates sensation seeking, social control, and social learning perspectives on drug abuse and focuses on the neuro-behavioral effects of synthetic drugs and drug use settings on risky sexual behavior. This project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) (5R01DA039904-01A1), and is jointly implemented by the Center for Applied Social and Economic Research (CASER) at Hong Kong University of Science and technology, Old Dominion University, Sun Yat-sen University, and the Yunnan Institute for Drug Abuse.

The project aims to recruit a community-based sample of 960 out-of-treatment drug users and 1,280 non-drug users age 18 to 49 in Foshan, Guangdong province, and Kunming, Yunnan Province. It employs a longitudinal design and mixed methods, integrating in-depth and survey questionnaire interviews, and includes biomarkers of STIs and active drug use.  

The baseline survey was completed in 2019. We successfully conducted questionnaire interviews among 874 drug users and 1,429 non-users and finished 117 in-depth interviews in the two cities. A follow-up survey is planned to be implemented in 2021.

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