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Examining human rights and mental health among women in drug abuse treatment centers in Afghanistan

Authors Abadi M, Shamblen SR, Johnson K, Thompson K, Young L, Courser M, Vanderhoff J, Thom Browne

Received 1 December 2011

Accepted for publication 9 January 2012

Published 3 April 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 155—165

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S28737

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Melissa Harris Abadi1, Stephen R Shamblen1, Knowlton Johnson1, Kirsten Thompson1, Linda Young1, Matthew Courser1, Jude Vanderhoff1, Thom Browne2

1Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation – Louisville Center, Louisville, KY, USA; 2United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract: Denial of human rights, gender disparities, and living in a war zone can be associated with severe depression and poor social functioning, especially for female drug abusers. This study of Afghan women in drug abuse treatment (DAT) centers assesses (a) the extent to which these women have experienced human rights violations and mental health problems prior to entering the DAT centers, and (b) whether there are specific risk factors for human rights violations among this population. A total of 176 in-person interviews were conducted with female patients admitted to three drug abuse treatment centers in Afghanistan in 2010. Nearly all women (91%) reported limitations with social functioning. Further, 41% of the women indicated they had suicide ideation and 27% of the women had attempted suicide at least once 30 days prior to entering the DAT centers due to feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Half of the women (50%) experienced at least one human rights violation in the past year prior to entering the DAT centers. Risk factors for human rights violations among this population include marital status, ethnicity, literacy, employment status, entering treatment based on one’s own desire, limited social functioning, and suicide attempts. Conclusions stemming from the results are discussed.

Keywords: Afghanistan, women, human rights, mental health, drug abuse treatment

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