Background: Canada is in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis and Alberta has one of the highest opioid use rates across the country. Populations made vulnerable through structural inequities who also use opioids, such as those who are unstably housed, are at an increased risk of experiencing harms associated with opioid use. The main purpose of this study was to explore if there was an association between unstable housing and hospital use for people who use opioids.
Methods: Analysis utilized self-reported data from the Alberta Health and Drug Use Survey which surveyed 813 Albertans in three cities. Hospital use was modeled using a logistic regression with our primary variable of interest being housing unstable status. Chi square tests were conducted between hospital use and variables associated with demographics, characteristics of drug use, health characteristics, and experiences of receiving services to establish model inclusion.
Results: Results revealed a significant association between housing instability and hospital use, with unstably housed individuals twice as likely to become hospital users.
Conclusions: Results highlight the importance of concurrently addressing housing instability alongside the provision of harm reduction services such as Housing First programs and supervised consumption sites. These findings have significant implications for policy and policymakers during the opioid overdose epidemic, and provide a foundation for future areas of research.