Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Trade-offs in Substitution Treatment: A Qualitative Study of an Opioid Substitution Therapy Clinic as an Enabling and a Risk-Environment

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Josefine Skou Jakobsen, World Health Organization
  • ,
  • Malene Lindgaard Kloster, Danish Cancer Society
  • ,
  • Louise Christensen
  • Katrine Schepelern Johansen, Region Hovedstaden
  • ,
  • Nanna Kappel, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Mette Kronbæk, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Kristian Relsted Fahnøe, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Esben Houborg

This article presents results from a study of clients’ experiences of attending an opioid substitution treatment clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark. The study is part of a research project about the everyday lives of marginalized people who use drugs in Copenhagen, their risk environments, and their access to formal and informal resources. Thirty-eight clients participated in structured interviews, covering topics concerning drug use, income, housing, social relations, violence, and use of health and social services. A risk environment/enabling environment framework was developed to analyze the data. The study highlights the importance of including the drug scene that surrounds the clinic to understand the clinic as both an enabling, constraining, and risky environment affecting the clients’ everyday lives, their safety, health, and well-being. The study shows that the clinic gives the clients access to different material, social and affective resources, but that access to resources often involves different trade-offs. For the clients, such trade-offs include balancing enabling and risky aspects of interaction with other clients or accepting constraints to get access to substitution medicine. Some clients accept such trade-offs, others do not and choose to find other ways to get resources, exposing themselves to potential harm. By paying particular attention to these trade-offs, this study provides a nuanced picture of the clinic’s dual role in both being a source of stability and a place that many clients associate with feeling worried and insecure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Drug Problems
Pages (from-to)64-83
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

    Research areas

  • illicit drug use, opioid substitution therapy, resources, risk

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