Shifting stages of ATS use and evidence-based intervention for risk reduction
Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) are globally widely used. However, there is limited understanding of what influences different phases of ATS use, as well whether this varies by type of ATS substance and/or user. The ATTUNE study investigated which factors shape individual ATS use patterns.
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews (n= 237) were conducted in five European countries (the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic) with participants who had used ATS, varying from a few times in a lifetime to daily. A literature review informed the recommendation of evidence-based interventions that emerged from the different patterns of ATS use found at the study.
MDMA and amphetamine were the mostly used ATS. Yet, types of ATS used differed between the countries and by user type. ATS users had various motives for and dynamic patterns of ATS use with alternating phases of increase, continuation and decrease. Cessation was pursued in different ways and for diverse reasons, such as mental health problems and maturing out.
Our findings demonstrate that tailor-made interventions are needed for the diverse user types and different patterns of ATS use, to reduce possible harms of use. These include drug checking services, peer-led information, self-management of ATS use, mental health support to help people cope with stressful life events and prevent uncontrolled use, and follow-up support after treatment.