A Brazilian investigative team, collaborating with a Simon Fraser University researcher, is citing an urgent need for targeted interventions among young crack users in cities throughout Brazil, identified as the world's biggest crack market, and further research to better address the problem.
SFU health sciences professor Benedikt Fischer and his Brazilian collaborators carried out a study of 160 young adult crack users in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Its findings paint a somber picture of socially disenfranchised drug users with extensive health problems and involvement in crime.
Published last month in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the study sheds light on the key characteristics of young crack users in a bid to better understand the problem and the interventions needed.
Study participants were assessed on key social, drug use, health and service use characteristics as well as health status.
"Crack users in the two Brazilian sites featured extensive socio-economic marginalization and are involved in crack and poly-drug use as well as sexual risk behaviours, and have compromised health status," says Fischer, noting that despite the high needs, social and health service utilization remain low.
"This research confirms that crack users are among the most marginalized of drug users, and feature extensive health and social needs, yet are commonly not provided adequate services," says Fischer, who maintains a visiting professorship at the Institute of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has collaborated extensively with the Brazilian authors involved in the study.
Fischer is also the director of SFU's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA).
The Brazilian Ministry of Health funded the study in an effort to better understand and develop evidence to guide interventions to address the issue.
Fischer's work was further supported by a CIHR/PHAC-funded Applied Public Health Chair.
Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.
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