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Access to treatment in drop-in centres by female drug users in southern Nigeria

Epidemiological studies suggest that the gender gap in substance use disorders is closing. Some studies have shown that women seem to be less likely than men to seek help or to be diagnosed with substance use problems. In Nigeria, little is known about female drug users and there are no studies, programmes or forums specifically targeting women who use drugs. The present study is aimed at identifying the problems of female drug users in the five drop-in centres sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in southern Nigeria (in Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Lagos States). A mixed method design was used in the study. A purposive sampling technique was used to select participants. Forty-nine female drug users were selected from Akwa Ibom State, 34 from Enugu State and 79 from Lagos State. A questionnaire for drug users on gender and access to treatment in drop-in centres in Nigeria was prepared and used to gather quantitative data, while focus group discussions were held in the drop-in centres with male and female participants to collect qualitative data. Results from the national survey showed that 38.3 per cent of the respondents wished to get help for their drug problems but were unable to. Some of the reasons were fear (16.1 per cent), affordability (17.1 per cent), lack of information (19.4 per cent), stigmatization (29 per cent) and unavailability of treatment services (19.4 per cent). In addition, 25.3 per cent of the women were not sure about the ease of access to treatment. This result also correlated with the qualitative study where the major reasons cited for not undergoing treatment were fear, stigmatization and lack of awareness. Participants also cited love and care, unconditional positive regard and acceptance, women-only care services, incentives and awareness as motivators for undergoing treatment.

Related Subject(s): Drugs Crime and Terrorism
Countries: Nigeria
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