Recreational drug users may combine drugs as a form of harm reduction, aidsmap reports. Crack users may combine the drug with marijuana to decrease their use of crack, while meth users may combine that drug with heroin as a way of lessening its negative effects.

Researchers from two studies presented these findings at the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal.

The authors of one study, which was also published in Addictive Behaviors, looked at 2,000 drug users from three prospective cohorts in Vancouver. They focused their attention on 122 individuals who between June 2012 and May 2015 reported using marijuana as a way to manage their use of crack.  

After adjusting the data for various factors, the investigators found that following a period of marijuana use, these individuals used crack less. Their crack use did not decrease until after their period of marijuana use ended, however.

Researchers in a second study conducted 14 in-depth interviews with participants in the Melbourne Injecting Drug User Cohort Study. These individuals said they regularly mixed heroin with crystal methamphetamine, a practice known as cocktailing, because they favored heroin’s depressant effects as a means of lessening some of meth’s negative effects. They also mixed the drugs to extend the time before experiencing withdrawal from heroin.

While study authors consider mixing these two drugs a risky practice, they also believe that cocktailing may represent a form of harm reduction.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the conference abstract about reducing crack use, click here.

To read the conference abstract about heroin and meth use, click here.