The effect of violent conflict on prescription/nonprescription drug misuse and abuse in four Middle Eastern countries
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School of Pharmacy, The University of Jordan, Jordan
Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1687
Background and Objective: An important, yet poorly understood, impact of violent conflict on public health is the susceptibility of populations in conflicts to drug abuse and misuse as increased stress, the easy availability of drugs, and the relaxation of taboos against drug use exacerbate the problem. This study Aims to describe the types and patterns of prescription and non-prescription medicines suspected of being misused and abused amongst local populations in conflict zones, as reported by pharmacists. Methods: The study is part of a larger two-year (2020-2022) project investigating the impact of violent conflict in the MENA region on medicine abuse and misuse and the experiences of pharmacists in managing this challenge. The study used a mixed-method approach to data-gathering, involving a quantitative survey (n=160) and semi-structured interviews (n=20) with pharmacists in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq. This paper focuses on the on prescription/nonprescription medicine misuse and abuse in violent contexts. Results: So far, a total of 91 questionnaires have been filled (51.0% male, 54.9% between 26-35 years old, 44.0% Iraq, 25.3% Syria, 20.9% Yemen, and 9.9% Libya). More than half (n=52, 57.1%) reported that 20 customers or more were suspected of misusing/abusing medications in the past 3 months with 17.5% suspected more than or equal to 50 customers. The top suspected medicines were pregabalin and sedatives/hypnotics followed by gabapentin opioids like tramadol, in addition to cough and cold preparations. Qualitative data analysis shows the profile of users suspected by pharmacists, the reasons for misuse/ abuse, and the ways in which pharmacists react to deal with the problem, most of which are refusing the sale and claiming that the product is not available. Conclusions: Based on the results above, policy recommendations about how to effectively respond to medicine misuse and abuse amongst conflict-affected populations are made.
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