Δημήτριος Παρασκευής, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ, Επιβλέπων
Μινέρβα Μελπομένη Μαλλιώρη, Καθηγήτρια, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Μαρίνα Οικονόμου, Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια, Ιατρική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Design and purpose of the study: This is a descriptive, observational study which primarily aims at the estimation of the prevalence of substance use/abuse and secondarily at the description of the risk factors which may lead to this among a refugee sample in Athens. Data collection occurred between 17/5/2018 and 12/12/2018.
Introduction: Immigration can be defined as a complex/multifactorial procedure. Refugees are forced to redefine their values and way of living, risking to partially lose their social and cultural identity in order to adapt to the social norms of the host country. As a result, they develop intense stress, feelings of loneliness, lack of compassion and emotional support which may result in substance use/abuse as a way to cope with those emotions.
Sample and method: The participants in the sample (N=62) were all refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, aged between 19 – 55 years old who were accommodated by the Accommodation Scheme for Refugees of Municipality of Athens under the supervision of the UNHCR. The questionnaire was created based on the information of the bibliography and the personal experience of the writer due to his occupation in the Accommodation Scheme since 10/1/2017. The quantitative index of the degree of the consequences related to drug problems was estimated with the use of Dast –10 questionnaire [Drug Abuse Screening Test-10, Skinner, H. A. (1982)].
Results: The findings indicate that 8.06% (5 refugees; 2 Syrians, 2 Afghans and 1 Iraqi) of the sample reported drug use. They were all between 21 to 29 years old, male and single. Three of them reported cannabis use, one reported heroin use and there was a multiple drug user who reported psychedelic drug use, non-prescribed psychoactive drug use and others which he did not define. Two out of the tree cannabis users reported smoking cannabis in their country of origin too, while the third started the use after coming to Greece. The heroin user was using opium in his country of origin and the multiple drug user reported use of non-prescribed psychoactive drugs, inhaling drugs and opium. Regarding the degree of the consequences related to drug problems according to Dast-10 questionnaire, this degree was zero for one refugee (cannabis), low for two refugees (cannabis), moderate for one (heroin) and substantial for the multiple drug user. Four out of these five refugees reported drug use in their country of origin, tree of them reported loss of a person close to them during the last three years and all of them an experience of abuse (two of them sexual abuse, two physical abuse and one verbal abuse) and a life-threatening experience.
Conclusions: Drug use (mostly cannabis use) was reported by 5 out the 62 refugees participating in this study. The degree of the consequences related to drug problems according to Dast-10 questionnaire was rather low. The drug users were mostly male, single, smokers, low educated and with a higher percentage of abuse, compared to the total sample of the study.
Future recommendations: In order to decrease the drug abuse problem among the immigrant population, the appropriate organization and adequate function of the health services is needed. This requires sufficient knowledge and experience regarding the case management of the difficult and particular situations of the daily challenges that immigrants face, reflecting on their cultural identity.
Refugees, immigration, Drug use/abuse, Cannabis, Heroin