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The Consumption of Khat and Other Drugs in Somali Combatants : A Cross-Sectional Study

The Consumption of Khat and Other Drugs in Somali Combatants : A Cross-Sectional Study


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ODENWALD, Michael, Harald HINKEL, Elisabeth SCHAUER, Frank NEUNER, Maggie SCHAUER, Thomas ELBERT, Brigitte ROCKSTROH, 2007. The Consumption of Khat and Other Drugs in Somali Combatants : A Cross-Sectional Study. In: PLoS Medicine. 4(10), e341

@article{Odenwald2007Consu-10868, title={The Consumption of Khat and Other Drugs in Somali Combatants : A Cross-Sectional Study}, year={2007}, doi={10.1371/journal.pmed.0040341}, number={10}, volume={4}, journal={PLoS Medicine}, author={Odenwald, Michael and Hinkel, Harald and Schauer, Elisabeth and Neuner, Frank and Schauer, Maggie and Elbert, Thomas and Rockstroh, Brigitte}, note={Article Number: e341} }

Hinkel, Harald application/pdf 2011-03-25T09:23:22Z First publ. in: PLoS Medicine 4 (2007), 10, e341 Neuner, Frank Schauer, Maggie deposit-license Odenwald, Michael The Consumption of Khat and Other Drugs in Somali Combatants : A Cross-Sectional Study eng Rockstroh, Brigitte Odenwald, Michael Elbert, Thomas Neuner, Frank Background<br />For more than a decade, most parts of Somalia have not been under the control of any type of government. This failure of state is complete in the central and southern regions and most apparent in Mogadishu, which had been for a long period in the hands of warlords deploying their private militias in a battle for resources. In contrast, the northern part of Somalia has had relatively stable control under regional administrations, which are, however, not internationally recognized. The present study provides information about drug use among active security personnel and militia with an emphasis on regional differences in relation to the lack of central governmental control to our knowledge the first account on this topic.<br />Methods and Findings<br />Trained local interviewers conducted a total of 8,723 interviews of armed personnel in seven convenience samples in different regions of Somalia; 587 (6.3%) respondents discontinued the interview and 12 (0.001%) were excluded for other reasons. We assessed basic sociodemographic information, self-reported khat use, and how respondents perceived the use of khat, cannabis, psychoactive tablets (e.g., benzodiazepines), alcohol, solvents, and hemp seeds in their units. The cautious interpretation of our data suggest that sociodemographic characteristics and drug use of military personnel differ substantially between northern and southern/central Somalia. In total, 36.4% (99% confidence interval [CI] 19.3% 57.7%) of respondents reported khat use in the week before the interview, whereas in some regions of southern/central Somalia khat use, especially excessive use, was reported more frequently. Self-reported khat use differed substantially from the perceived use in units. According to the perception of respondents, the most frequent form of drug use is khat chewing (on average, 70.1% in previous week, 99% CI 63.6% 76.5%), followed by smoking cannabis (10.7%, 99% CI 0% 30.4%), ingesting psychoactive tablets (8.5%, 99% CI 0% 24.4%), drinking alcohol (5.3%, 99% CI 0% 13.8%), inhaling solvents (1.8%, 99% CI 0% 5.1%), and eating hemp seeds (0.6%, 99% CI 0% 2.0%). Perceived use of khat differs little between northern and southern Somalia, but perceived use of other drugs reaches alarmingly high levels in some regions of the south, especially related to smoking cannabis and using psychoactive tablets.<br />Conclusions<br />Our data suggest that drug use has quantitatively and qualitatively changed over the course of conflicts in southern Somalia, as current patterns are in contrast to traditional use. Although future studies using random sampling methods need to confirm our results, we hypothesize that drug-related problems of armed staff and other vulnerable groups in southern Somalia has reached proportions formerly unknown to the country, especially as we believe that any biases in our data would lead to an underestimation of actual drug use. We recommend that future disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs need to be prepared to deal with significant drug-related problems in Somalia. 2011-03-25T09:23:22Z 2007 Schauer, Maggie Schauer, Elisabeth Rockstroh, Brigitte Elbert, Thomas Hinkel, Harald Schauer, Elisabeth

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