The official journal of
EUROPAD - European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association
WFTOD - World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
Editor: Icro Maremmani, MD - Pisa, Italy, EU
Associate Editors:
Thomas Clausen, MD - Oslo, Norway
Pier Paolo Pani, MD - Cagliari, Italy, EU
Marta Torrens, MD - Barcelona, Spain, EU
Statistical Editor:
Mario Miccoli, PhD - Pisa, Italy, EU

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Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems: 2024, 26, 36

Illicit drug use among Sri Lankan school-going adolescents: A Qualitative study

Amila Chandrasiri, Nuwan Darshana, Ishara Wanniaracchchi, Sajeewa De Silva, and Konara Somarathne

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Summary: Background. Illicit drug use among school-going adolescents has emerged as a significant public health threat in Sri Lanka. Exact evidence is scarce as this issue tends to remain hidden, given the socio-cultural background of the country. This study was conducted to explore the problem of Illicit drug use among Sri Lankan school-going adolescents. Methods. A qualitative study was conducted among 47 schoolteachers, which was selected using the purposive sampling method. First-hand information about any issue related to illicit drug use among school children or the supply and distribution of illicit drugs targeting school children was assessed with the help of a strutted guide using an incident reporting approach. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and an inductive approach. Results. Schools in urban areas and coastal tourism areas are at greater risk, while boys in early adolescence are at the highest risk of addiction. Children in mixed schools had a lower risk. Psychotropic drugs (Diazepam, Pregabalin and Tramadol), cannabis and toffees of unknown content were identified as the most common illicit drugs prevalent among school children. Small boutiques around schools were identified as the main distribution points. Not having mutually supportive relationships with family members, unprotected family environments, poor parental status, poor parental monitoring and unhealthy parenting bonds were badly affected turn those children into drug use. Conclusions. Illicit drug use among school-going adolescents has been identified as an emerging issue. The gravity of the problem has been masked by sociocultural barriers, causing the problem to worsen. It should require the immediate attention of policymakers for preventive and harm reduction activities targeting high-risk and vulnerable groups with a multi-sectoral approach.

Keywords: School-going adolescents; Illicit drug use; patterns; clinical characteristics


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