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State of the art and best-practice interventions for reducing harm among illicit stimulant users

Call for papers

Edited by: Caleb Banta-Green and Peter Blanken 

Although alcohol and tobacco remain the most prevalent substances used worldwide, use of amphetamine-type substances (ATS) and cocaine is substantial. It is estimated that in 2015 0.77% of the adult population worldwide had used illicit, non-prescribed ATS and 0.35% had used cocaine in the preceding 12 months. And, although stimulant use in itself is not problematic per se, one in 5 to 7 of those recent stimulant users had developed a consumption pattern that could be described as amphetamine or cocaine use disorder (6.6 million, 0.086% and 3.85 million, 0.0525% respectively), with large regional differences.[1]

People with heavy stimulant use or stimulant use disorder are at risk of serious consequences to their physical health (e.g., blood borne and/or sexually transmissible viruses like HIV and HCV, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and fatal overdoses) as well as their mental health (e.g., psychosis, depression, and anxiety). In addition, due to national and local drug policies, law enforcement and stigmatization, for instance, people with hazardous stimulant use or stimulant use disorders might be marginalised and isolated from society with all the attendant negative consequences, and substantial years of life lost due to resultant disabilities.[2] Moreover, initial and ongoing use of stimulants and the consequences of that use are often exacerbated by social factors such as homelessness, self-identified and perceived identity (including race/ethnicity and sexual orientation), all of which have implications for harm reduction and/or treatment.

Much effort has been expended in developing effective interventions for stimulant use disorders, but in spite of this the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions is modest – perhaps with the exception of contingency management.[3] Of the many medications that have been studied there are indications that only agonist pharmacotherapy with sustained-release formulations – in robust dosages – seems promising, at least for cocaine.[4,5] For methamphetamine some studies indicate promise for specific populations using psychiatric medications.[6] However, most of these studies and interventions aimed for reductions or abstinence in stimulant use and inadequately addressed other crucial domains of functioning, such as physical and mental health, social functioning, and quality of life.

Therefore, we hereby invite you to submit manuscripts for our special issue of the Harm Reduction Journal on State of the art and best-practice interventions for reducing harm among illicit stimulant users. We encourage submission of 'good quality' manuscripts pertaining to projects, interventions or well-designed studies aiming specifically to reduce the harms potentially associated with stimulant use and to improve the health and social status as well as the quality of life of people who use stimulants in a hazardous manner or have stimulant use disorders. Manuscripts can be of a descriptive, qualitative nature as well as more quantitatively oriented.

As an open access publication Harm Reduction Journal has an article processing charge, details of which can be found here. For more information about what support may be available to you, please visit our OA funding and support website or email  

All articles in this issue will undergo the journal’s full standard peer review process. Manuscripts should be formatted according to Harm Reduction Journal submission guidelines and may be submitted through Editorial Manager ( 

In the submission system please make sure the correct collection title is chosen from the “additional information” tab. Please also indicate in the covering letter that the manuscript is to be considered for the “State of the art and best-practice interventions for reducing harm among illicit stimulant users” special issue. Submissions are invited until 31st January 2019. For further information, please contact the Editor-in-Chief.

  1. Peacock A, Leung J, Larney S, Colledge S, Hickman M, Rehm J, Giovino GA, West R, Hall W, Griffiths P, et al: Global statistics on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use: 2017 status report. Addiction 2018.
  2. Degenhardt L, Baxter AJ, Lee YY, Hall W, Sara GE, Johns N, Flaxman A, Whiteford HA, Vos T: The global epidemiology and burden of psychostimulant dependence: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2014, 137:36-47.
  3. Minozzi S, Saulle R, De Crescenzo F, Amato L: Psychosocial interventions for psychostimulant misuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016, 9:Cd011866.
  4. Bhatt M, Zielinski L, Baker-Beal L, Bhatnagar N, Mouravska N, Laplante P, Worster A, Thabane L, Samaan Z: Efficacy and safety of psychostimulants for amphetamine and methamphetamine use disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Syst Rev 2016, 5:189.
  5. Castells X, Cunill R, Pérez-Mañá C, Vidal X, Capellà D: Psychostimulant drugs for cocaine dependence (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, 9.
  6. Colfax GN, Santos GM, Das M, Santos DM, Matheson T, Gasper J, Shoptaw S, Vittinghoff E: Mirtazapine to reduce methamphetamine use: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2011, 68:1168-1175.
  1. We report on motivations for crystal methamphetamine-opioid co-use/co-injection through narratives of people who inject drugs during a period of increased crystal methamphetamine use reporting in Australia.

    Authors: Anna Palmer, Nick Scott, Paul Dietze and Peter Higgs
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2020 17:14
  2. Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) are the second most commonly used illicit drugs in Europe and globally. However, there is limited understanding of what shapes patterns of ATS use over the life course. The AT...

    Authors: Marcus-Sebastian Martens, Heike Zurhold, Moritz Rosenkranz, Amy O’Donnell, Michelle Addison, Liam Spencer, William McGovern, Roman Gabrhelík, Benjamin Petruželka, Magdalena Rowicka, Nienke Liebregts, Peter Degkwitz, Eileen Kaner and Uwe Verthein
    Citation: Harm Reduction Journal 2020 17:8