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PURPOSE: This study compares polydrug use in national and inner city samples to (1) examine patterns of use underlying different prevalence rates and (2) identify how inner city polydrug use needs targeting in ways not suggested by national research. METHODS: Latent class analyses on indicators of illicit drug use in the last year, hazardous alcohol use, and cigarette smoking were compared between the inner city 2008-2010 South East London Community Health study (n = 1698) and the nationally representative 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey in England (n = 7403). Multinomial logistic regressions then examined latent class solutions with demographic and socioeconomic factors. RESULTS: Both samples revealed three notably similar classes of polydrug users: a "high-drug" group using multiple substances; a "moderate-drug" group using cannabis, alcohol, and cigarettes; and a "low-drug" group reporting minimal alcohol and cigarette use. However, South East London Community Health reported lower risks of polydrug use for ethnic minorities but not for more educated participants. CONCLUSIONS: Despite higher polydrug use prevalence in the inner city, latent classes of polydrug users were similar between samples. Some demographic and socioeconomic factors differed between the samples, suggesting the need for inner city services to use both local and national data for policy planning.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Epidemiol

Publication Date





636 - 645


Alcohol abuse, Cigarette smoking, Comparative study, England, Illicit drug use, London, Public health, Socioeconomic factors, Urban population, Adult, Alcoholism, Demography, England, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Residence Characteristics, Smoking, Socioeconomic Factors, Substance-Related Disorders, Urban Population, Young Adult