2. Lebanon: responding to drug market changes in crisis situation

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 15:00 to 16:30
Insights zone 4 (I4)

Abstract

In Lebanon, research to develop rapid responses tackling problems generated by changing drug markets remain limited. European Facility Treatment Survey Questionnaire (EFSQ) study and the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD) were implemented to gather information on patterns of drug use and to identify responses to drug-related security.

Both studies were conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon. EFSQ study was sent by email to all facilities providing treatment for substance use. Participants in the EWSD were recruited online through social media dissemination and paid ads; and off-line. 15 facilities responded to the EFSQ study and 247 participants completed the EWSD.

Data from EWSD indicates that cannabis products (92%), powder/crack cocaine (42%), and MDMA/ecstasy (32%) are the most commonly used psychoactive substances among people who used drugs in the last year.

Heroin remains the most common drug for those in treatment (38% among treatment clients), followed by cannabis (15%). Most of the treatment units reported restricted opening hours and fewer acceptance of clients during COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of drug use, observations indicate a growing trend in cannabis and methamphetamine use.

The changes drug markets and preparedness to address them in Lebanon should be viewed in the context of a long-lasting economic and political crisis, further accentuated by the explosion in Beirut in summer of 2020. The studies provide insights into the needs and challenges faced in the field of substance use and provide a basis for the implementation of evidence-based prevention and structured response strategies.

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