Mohammad Fathi AlAfifi
M.F. AlAfifi1, M. Sakka2, R. AlAfifi1. 1Substance Abuse Research Center, Palestinian Territories; 2Al-Azhar Univesrity-Gaza, Palestinian Territories
Background: The Gaza Strip of the Palestinian Territories is 365 square kilometers inhabited by 1.5 million people. More than 50% are adolescents and youth. A Substance Abuse Research Center (SARC-AMAN) study conducted in 2009 revealed an increase in prescription drug abuse, especially tramadol (i.e., a strong sedative analgesic opioid). In the current study, we tracked prescription drug use trends among drug users in the Gaza Strip.
Method: During the period 2010–2011, we conducted a survey of prescription drug use trends among drug users who communicated with our drop-in center. We studied previous and current trends. A total of 420 prescription drug users (300 males and 120 females) participated.
Results: Preliminary analysis revealed that 92% of males and 95% of females in the sample were using psychotropic drugs 5 years ago. Currently, 35% of males and 20% of females had shifted to tramadol, and 40% males and 30% females were using tramadol primarily and other prescribed drugs. The rest, 25% males and 50% females, continued using psychotropic drugs. In addition, 22% of both were using Ecstasy.
Conclusion: The study revealed evident change among prescribed drug users from the psychotropic drugs to the use of tramadol and Ecstasy with high doses of tramadol up to 2,000–3,000 mg daily, as well as injection, instead of heroin. Also, Ecstasy use became more prevalent. It is recommended to plan a wider study to find out the causes and impact of these changes.