Understanding pathways to stimulant use: a mixed methods examination of the individual, social and cultural factors shaping illicit stimulant use across Europe
Amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), such as amphetamine, methamphetamine and 3,4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy), are the second most commonly used class of illicit drugs globally. Yet there is limited understanding of which factors affect different trajectories of ATS use over the life course. Responding to this evidence gap, the European ERANID ‘ATTUNE’ project aimed to examine which individual, social, and environmental factors shape different pathways of ATS consumption in the Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and United Kingdom. The most comprehensive investigation into this topic to date, ATTUNE comprised qualitative interviews (n=280) and structured questionnaires (n=1,500) with a range of ATS users and non-user groups across Europe. In this structured session, members of the European ATTUNE consortium will present key findings from the study and consider their implications for policy, practice and future research.
Specifically, we will report on evidence illuminating the interactions between individual, social and environmental influencing factors, and the overall trajectory of ATS use. Additionally we will present individual motivations to use ATS and describe different patterns of consumption over time. In doing so, we will identify potential protective factors (e.g. personality traits, social integration) associated with the ability to control, decrease or quit ATS use, as well as risk factors (e.g. critical life events) associated with the escalation of ATS consumption patterns towards problematic use and/or dependence. Further, we will explore why some individuals exposed to ATS select not to use these substances, as well as examining the relationship that illicit stimulant users have with other illicit and licit substances.