Prevention and Treatment of hazardous Substance Use among Refugees: Perspectives from Germany
Background: Refugees are a particularly vulnerable group for hazardous substance use. There is only very limited research evidence and evidence-based practice for this specific target group. The German project PraeWi deals with hazardous substance use among refugees in shared accommodations. The aims are to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate a multi-component-prevention-concept.
Methodology: In PraeWi, practice-oriented and science-based approaches are being developed to address the diverse challenges of refugees’ risky substance use in shared accommodation. In addition to a qualitative and quantitative comprehensive needs and resources analysis, PraeWi focuses on the implementation in a pilot accommodation, followed by an evaluation with a comparative multi-level-study about the efficacy of the prevention-concept.
Key findings: The focus on the risks in the arrival situation of the refugees, in which substances are used for coping, is central to the practice of prevention. In addition, access to prevention and intervention services is difficult for the target group due to numerous barriers.
Conclusions: Evidence-based, target group-specific, culturally sensitive, setting-based, peer-oriented and low-threshold support services are relevant to create access and prevent risky substance use. The special risks in the arrival situation and the resulting potential vulnerability of refugees are central. Accordingly, prevention should start precisely here and focus on newly arrived refugees in order to maintain existing resources and develop further strengths as coping strategies.