The right way to address addiction requires a continuum of care from harm reduction and withdrawal management through support and self-care, which involves a wide range of services and treatment pathways. At the very beginning of this drug rehab journey, people suffering from substance use disorders go through the withdrawal and detoxification stages. Little was known about the intricate details of this before 2018 when one of the longest and largest studies uncovered the realities associated with accessing withdrawal management services in Vancouver, Canada.
The study was conducted between December 2005 and May 2016. During that time 2001 Canadians who use illicit drugs other than or in addition to cannabis completed interviewer-administered questionnaires both at the beginning and the following every 6 months after that until the end of the study.
Typically, drug rehab centres offer assistance in managing the various sometimes harsh withdrawal symptoms through medical supervision and access to pharmacological treatment options. While available studies conducted up to now consistently proved that only 10 to 15% of people who are abusing drugs access treatment for their addiction in any given year, the current research dived deeper into the specific characteristics of those who access withdrawal and rehab services in Canada.
Questions from the surveys wanted to learn more about demographics, injection/non-injection drug use, access to addiction treatment services and risk behaviours. The study also involved collecting blood samples for HIV and Hepatitis C testing, as well as HIV disease monitoring for the already diagnosed participants, and post-test counselling sessions.
Overall, at the beginning of the study, 27% of respondents were daily heroin users and just over 6% were daily prescription opioid users. More than 9% used cocaine daily and 6% were daily crystal methamphetamine users while 12.5% of participants portrayed high risk alcohol use behaviour and 40% were binge users of various drugs. Out of all 2001 Canadians enrolled, almost 90 % were noted to be injection drug users.
Key findings uncovered the need for men-only drug rehab environments with men being more than double (62%) more prone to access withdrawal management services. Additionally, homelessness was another important driver here with homeless individuals were 86% more likely to seek treatment. Surprisingly, Canadians who binge used substances showed a 34% likelihood of taking control of their situation. On the other hand, older individuals were 19% less likely to access such services. A reason for this might be the stigma associated with suffering from an addiction, particularly for men which are expected to be more independent and not show signs of vulnerability. It is also a case breaking down the masculinity barriers that currently dominate societies.
Men-specific rehab centres are nowadays more important than ever. It’s in no way gender discrimination but more a tailored approach that is mindful of the completely different needs that men have in comparison to women and providing them with options that are appealing to them and encourage a healthy recovery.