Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Exploring attitudes and exposure to injecting drug use in the African migrant community

SPHPM’s Danielle Horyniak and Professor Paul Dietze, Shelley Cogger from the Burnet Institute and Tapuwa Bofu and Girma Seid from the Centre for Multicultural Youth have co-authored a paper exploring injecting drug users within young individuals of African ethnical background residing within Australia.

The study sought to determine the current outlooks and level of contact to injecting based drug use within a culturally diverse population. Research conducted indicated that migrant populations may be at risk of being exposed to substance abuse more so than local communities due to the obstacles of adjusting to the ‘normalised’ traditions of their new place of residence. However, there had been minimal material in the field of substance abuse within culturally diverse populations living in Australia.

In order to determine current opinions on the nature of substance abuse within African migrant populations, 18 male individuals over the age of 16 were interviewed with 6 individuals being current or previous drug users and 12 having never injected illicit drugs. Researchers engaged with the community for months and through a creation of mutual trust, young individuals consented to engage in the study. All interviews were face-to-face with Danielle Horyniak with questions pertaining to their background and move to Australia and their first contact with substance abuse and their perceptions on the matter. 

Results indicated that the participants viewed injecting drug use as “no good”, “stupid” and “disgusting”. The issue of injecting drug use was highly defamed and not shared with family. High rates of exposure injecting drug use was seen in the community with many individuals had been previously asked to sell drugs. The reasoning behind drug use within the community was due to the area individuals lived in and the easy access to illicit substances. 

The paper concludes that there is a dire need for strategies that deal directly with injecting drug use within African adolescents. These interventions need to target issues such as stigmatisation of the problem and focus on empowering youth to openly share and discuss the problem.

Read the paper in full here.

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