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Drug abuse and mental disorders among young people who use drugs

Sept. 10, 2018

The "Protect the Future" project continues with the training "Drug abuse among adolescents and mental disorders from drug use"  sponsored by the Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI) held from September 13rd to 16th 2017, at the guest house of the National Assembly, Hanoi. 2 experts from France: Dr. Laurent Mitchel - Addiction Treatment Specialist and Dr. Olivier Phan -, Substance Abuse Specialist in Teenagers were lecturers of 4 training sessions.

Dr. Laurent Michel, training lecturer and Mr. Tran Duc Trung from SCDI

Nearly 50 people from CBOs in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong and Nghe An and provincial SCDI staff directly involved in the project, have participated in the training.


CBO member from TP. Ho Chi Minh asking questions for instructor Laurent Michel

All participants of the training, included SCDI staff and representatives of CBOs

Knowledge of common mental disorders in drug users, especially methamphetamines, has been shared by experts, with illustrated examples from France. In the past, meth was used to lose weight, but later its mechanism of addiction and brain damage and psychosis were discovered. The risk of mental disorders in the meth addicts is much higher than heroin. In addition, the major difference between meth and heroin addiction lies in sexual behavior: Using heroin, the sexual desire disappears, but using meth it’s quite the opposite, which increases the risky sexual behavior, increase the risk of HIV infection, hepatitis, and this risk is especially common in the collective sex. So the outreach worker needs to discuss with the client about this risk and highlight the importance of using condom. The most important skill in customer counseling is how to reduce the effects of drugs on mental health.
CBOs discussed the harm reduction strategy when working with clients. The Hanoi team shared: "In addition to SCDI's available material, Hai Dang has its own fanpage, which has various harm reduction information from different sources. In addition, the group also has different posts in various themes, encouraging young people to freely share their views on a certain issues. In addition, there are small group meetings, discussions on topics related to drugs and other issues."
During the third and fourth sessions of the training, Dr. Olivier Phan talked about the characteristics of young people using drugs, how to work and how to reach them. According to Dr. Olivier, young people learn from their surroundings, they have many risky behaviors because they want to try new things. When we inform them somthing, they do not receive it immediately but want to try it and then draw their own lesson, want to learn experience rather than learn the theory. Harm reduction methods, instead of threatening facts, should be introduced when working with young people.
After the lesson, all participants discussed and applied the content they had learned in their peer-to-peer activities by asking questions and responding, with supervision from 2 trainers. Useful tips for harm reduction were discussed and contributed by the members to make the content of the consultation richer and more accessible.

Vân Anh


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