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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 276-279

The hunting of the snark: detecting and managing abusers of alcohol and other drugs in refugee camps - a commentary on Ezard et al. and Streel & Schilperoord

retired British psychiatrist with over 40 years of clinical and academic interest in alcoholism and other drug abuses. His publications include studies and reviews of alcoholic brain damage, the use of heroinblocking drugs and other medications as adjuncts to addiction treatment programmes, placebo effects and the ineffectiveness of prohibition

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The abuse of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) is evidently a significant, but often neglected, problem in refugee camps. There are some differences compared with AOD problems in developed countries (notably fewer affected women), but also many similarities. Alcohol is the major problem in terms of behaviour and is often manufactured and traded by refugees themselves. Not all AOD users are AOD abusers, but identifying abusers may be worth the effort if it can be shown to reduce, rather than increase, the healthcare workload. If staff can be engaged, there are several techniques for engaging and managing abusers. The nonspecific effects of interventions may be considerable.

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