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.