Illicit Drug Use in Palestine

The unique socioeconomic context in Palestine, characterized by political and economic tensions, has created conditions that facilitate the spread of illicit drug use among Palestinians.

There is no enough data on the extent of high-risk drug use (HRDU) in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, although studying drug abuse is imperative for policy formation.

HRDU is defined as "recurrent drug use that causes actual harm to the person, or places the person at a high probability/risk of such harm".

The overall objective of this study was to provide insight into the extent of male high-risk drug use in Palestine.

The survey has sampled only male participants based on the findings of the formative research that females are not as socially connected as males when it comes to referring other drug users. Targeted males were residents of north, middle, and south of West Bank as well as Gaza Strip.

Main findings show that drug use is not confined to specific areas or localities within Palestine, but is widely distributed across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is estimated that there are 26,500 high risk drug users (HRDUs) in Palestine (16,453 in West Bank and 10,047 in Gaza) comprising 1.8% of the male population aged 15 and above.

Among HRDUs, Hashish/marijuana and synthetic marijuana were the most used in WestBank, while prescription drugs Tramadol and Lyrica were the most used in Gaza.

Study Recommendations:

• Substance abuse must be prevented through youth programs that focus on healthy lifestyle options and socio-psychological components, increased education, rehabilitation services, cooperation with law enforcement authorities

• Family support through social services, health insurance, food stamps, counseling programs, and awareness programs.

• Harm reduction and prevention through policy changes, reduced social stigma, peer-driven intervention modalities, harm-reduction education, health-staff and pharmacists education, free health services, human-rights based criminal justice response to drug problems, and adequate treatment and counseling in prison settings.

• Friendly and affordable treatment that works with different types of drug abuse; in addition to mobilizing the most effective medications, involving families, monitoring and evaluating treatment processes, and initiating family-friendly wellbeing centers.

• Development of a drug-use monitoring system