Circumstances, pedagogy and rationales for injection initiation among new drug injectors

Lloyd A. Goldsamt, Alex Harocopos, Paul Kobrak, John J. Jost, Michael C. Clatts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Injection drug use is especially risky for new injectors. To understand the social and environmental contexts in which risks occur, we interviewed individuals who had initiated injection within the past 3 years (n = 146, 69.2% male) about the circumstances and rationales for their initial injection events. Respondents typically initiated injection due to tolerance (49.3%) and/or for experimentation (61.1%). Most (86.2%) did not possess the technical skills required to self-inject, and relied on the assistance of someone older (58.5%). While low levels of syringe sharing (5.8%) were reported, a majority of respondents (60.5%) engaged in at least one type of behavioral risk. Female injectors were more likely than male injectors to rely on another individual (95.5 vs. 82.2%), often a sex partner (40.5 vs. 7.2%), for assistance. The diversity seen in early injection practices highlights the need for tailored prevention messages to reach this population prior to the onset of injection risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-267
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Drug injectors
  • HCV
  • HIV
  • Heroin
  • Injection initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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