Methadone maintenance therapy as evidence based drug abuse planning in developed countries: Can developing countries afford and learn from this experience?

  • SED Nsimba
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Methadone, Buprenorphine, Substances of Abuse, Opioids, Developed & Developing Countries, Tanzania, Sub-Saharan Africa & USA


Use of illicit substances of abuse is a major public health problem in developed countries like the US. However, this problem of illicit substance use has spread like a tumor to include currently developing countries where most of its youths and adolescents are actively engaged in this illegal practice. This problem is even more worse in poor resource countries, as use of these substances is accompanied with a lot of HIV- risk behaviours, and for cocaine and heroin drug injectors often share injecting equipments hence increasing the chances of contracting and spreading HIV infection. Apart from HIV infection, other infections include hepatitis B, C, abscesses and other ill-health problems such as drug dependence manifested with complex set of behaviours related to mental illnesses.
For non-drug injectors, the chances of contracting and spreading HIV through their unsafe/unprotected sexual behaviours especially those having multiple partners is there. Use of these illicit substances have other consequences like compromising the dosing schedule or adherence / poor compliance to ARTs/ARVs among those enrolled. Furthermore, use of illicit substances may be accompanied with domestic sexual violence which is done without using any protective (condoms) measures) leading to HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancies. However, various studies and preventive approaches have been tried in the US on drug abusers in order to prevent the associated adverse health outcomes.
There are many reasons why people use drugs. In many situations, drugs are being used as artificial problem-solvers such as frustrations, stress or tiredness. Drugs can often make a problem disappear for a short time but not usually the answer for solving the problem. They just help to remove it temporarily. Other people choose to use drugs to enjoy the feelings or for recreational purposes which many drugs produce. For example, many people, especially young people, experiment with using drugs to find out more about the sensations they produce.
Drug use is a problem to users when it begins to cause some damage to their physical health, mental health and social well-being. These include mental illness, diseases caused by or related to use of drugs e.g. practice of sharing needles or syringes among drug injectors and also non-drug injectors may acquire HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, crimes and violence. However, the number of harm associated with the use of drugs is increasing in Tanzania and other developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally in developed nations like the US and many others.

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eISSN: 0856-8960