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Alcohol and substance use disorders in humanitarian emergencies: Co-morbid mental disorders, identifying gaps and emerging trends

Oluwole Jegede

Abstract

The mental health needs of displaced persons have traditionally taken the backstage in the conceptualization of the overall medical treatment needs of this population. Despite the intuitive understanding that the trauma experienced by these individuals makes them particularly predisposed to mental illness and substance use disorders, there remains a dearth of scientific data to shed light on this all-important subject. Epidemiologic literature and data consistently fall short in describing the extent of this problem and in particular the attendant alcohol and substance abuse that not only afflict people in humanitarian contexts but also aid workers who attempt to lend a helping hand to these communities. There is little or no documentation on effective, and efficient ways to predict, diagnose and treat alcohol and substance use disorders among displaced persons living in humanitarian regions of the world. This paper describes themultidirectional nature of mental illness and substance abuse, the gaps in knowledge, as well as emerging trends particularly in diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords

Substance use disorder; humanitarian emergencies; complex emergencies; alcohol abuse; mental illness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18063/esp.v3.i1.684
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