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Drug and alcohol use in Iraq: findings of the inaugural Iraqi Community Epidemiological Workgroup.

  • Author(s): Al-Hemiary, Nesif J
  • Al-Diwan, Jawad K
  • Hasson, Albert L
  • Rawson, Richard A
  • et al.

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Reports suggest increased use of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs in Iraq in the past decade, which may portend an increase in substance use disorders (SUDs) and, thus, an increased need for treatments.To develop better information on the nature and extent of drug and alcohol use in Iraq, the Iraqi Ministry of Health, with support from the US government and technical assistance from US researchers, held an initial Iraqi Community Epidemiology Work Group meeting in May 2012 in Baghdad. Drug seizure data were the primary data source, provided by Iraqi law enforcement and customs officials. Ministry of Health officials presented data from hospitals (medical and psychiatric), outpatient clinics, and health centers, as well as from surveys of medical patients, pharmacy patients, and prisoners.The data suggest that the most commonly used substances are alcohol, hashish, and prescription drugs. New drugs in Iraq's drug use scene include the amphetamine-type substances "Captagon" and crystal methamphetamine, and the painkiller tramadol. Seizures of Captagon, methamphetamine, Afghan opium, teriac (a crude form of opium), and heroin at border crossings may indicate that these substances are becoming more popular. A plan for an ongoing program of CEWG meetings was developed.Drug and alcohol use in Iraq is increasing and new drugs are appearing in the country. An ongoing program for monitoring drug use trends and informing Iraqi policy makers is important for public health planning, including the development of strategies to identify citizens with SUDs and provide them treatment.

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