Substance use among refugees with Ebtesam Saleh

In this episode of Addiction Audio, Rob talks to Ebtesam Saleh a Doctoral student at the Charite university in Berlin. Ebtesam talks about her recent systematic review of qualitative research on substance use among refugees. She talks about talks about the limitations of using survey data to explore this issue and how qualitative research can help contextualise the problems faced by refugees in a culturally sensitive way.


Ebtesam discusses the impact that research can have and how researchers can minimise the potential for re-traumatisation through research interviews. She also discusses the cultural differences in how people view substances and substance use. With substances like coca, betul quid and prescription drugs being viewed, legislated and used in different ways in different countries. There are also multiple barriers to treatment that refugees can experience from stigma to a lack of resources and including structural factors such as health insurance requirements in different countries.


Ebtesam then talks about the many refugee groups whose experiences are not present in the literature:

“For example, Yemen hosts many refugee populations from African conflict countries; while Yemen itself is a country struggling with civil war, so it looks like a refugee crisis within a country of crisis. So, a crisis within the crisis”

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