Addiction and treatment experiences among active methamphetamine users recruited from a township community in Cape Town, South Africa: A mixed-methods study.
Since 2000, there has been a dramatic increase in methamphetamine use in South Africa, but little is known about the experiences of out-of-treatment users. This mixed-methods study describes the substance use histories, addiction symptoms, and treatment experiences of a community-recruited sample of methamphetamine users in Cape Town.Using respondent driven sampling, 360 methamphetamine users (44% female) completed structured clinical interviews to assess substance abuse and treatment history and computerized surveys to assess drug-related risks. A sub-sample of 30 participants completed in-depth interviews to qualitatively explore experiences with methamphetamine use and drug treatment.Participants had used methamphetamine for an average of 7.06 years (SD=3.64). They reported using methamphetamine on an average of 23.49 of the past 30 days (SD=8.90); 60% used daily. The majority (90%) met ICD-10 criteria for dependence, and many reported severe social, financial, and legal consequences. While only 10% had ever received drug treatment, 90% reported that they wanted treatment. In the qualitative interviews, participants reported multiple barriers to treatment, including beliefs that treatment is ineffective and relapse is inevitable in their social context. They also identified important motivators, including desires to be drug free and improve family functioning.This study yields valuable information to more effectively respond to emerging methamphetamine epidemics in South Africa and other low- and middle-income countries. Interventions to increase uptake of evidence-based services must actively seek out drug users and build motivation for treatment, and offer continuing care services to prevent relapse. Community education campaigns are also needed.
Meade, CS; Towe, SL; Watt, MH; Lion, RR; Myers, B; Skinner, D; Kimani, S; Pieterse, D
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