2. Substance Use Among Populations Displaced by Conflict: Assessments, Findings, Recommendations
By the end of 2018, there were around 70.8 million people displaced by conflict. Conflict-displaced populations ate at risk of substance use disorders (SUD) and related harms. Economic, psychological and cultural aspects of displaced contexts can promote vulnerability to newer and more hazardous patterns of substance use. Limited and disrupted access to health and social services can contribute to an increased burden of illness due to SUD.
Literature review on substance use and changing patterns in displacement, as well as on SUD and substance-related harm among populations displaced by conflict. Review of the evidence for clinical interventions to respond to SUD and highlight future directions to treat and care for SUD among displaced populations.
Substance use is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among conflict-displaced populations. Transitions in substance use may be related to exposure to trauma, adaptation to a new-post conflict environment, pre-displacement and host patterns of substance use. Guidance materials for minimum responses exist, outlining community outreach, primary care and specialist treatment. Efforts should be made to include displaced persons in health and social services delivered to host populations.
SUD among populations displaced by conflict are important but under-treated. Although the evidence base is yet under-development, current approaches suggest adapting evidence-based interventions from other settings. Interventions should be based on an assessment of the biopsychosocial needs of all ages and genders and their context and include at a minimum community outreach, screening, brief intervention and treatment of common disorders.