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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Cecilia Tomori

Tomori, Cecilia, Go, Vivian F., Tuan, Le Nhan, Huong, Nguyen Mai, Binh, Nguyen Thanh, Zelaya, Carla E., Celentano, David D., Dat, Do Tuan & Quan, Vu Minh (2014). “In their perception we are addicts” Social vulnerabilities and sources of support for men released from drug treatment centers in Vietnam. International Journal of Drug Policy 25(5): 897-904.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Background

Amid the global transition to treat opioid addiction as an illness, many people who inject drugs (PWID) face heterogeneous legal environments that include both punitive and harm reduction measures. In Vietnam, many PWID, who have a high burden of HIV, are sent to drug treatment centers, or “06 centers”, for compulsory detoxification, vocational training, and labor for up to four years. This study investigates the challenges and facilitators of reentry into community and family life among men who are released from “06 centers” and provides insights and recommendations for developing policies and interventions that address special needs of this vulnerable population.

Methods

In-depth interviews were conducted in 2011 by trained interviewers among a sample of 43 male PWID released within the past 2 years from “06 centers” in Hanoi, Vietnam to investigate the above issues and to recommend potential interventions. Participants were recruited from outpatient HIV clinics that serve PWID (n = 22) and through peer referral from self-help groups for PWID (n = 21). Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, entered into Atlas.TI qualitative data analysis software and analyzed for key themes.
Results

The interviews revealed persistent drug-related stigmatization, frequently paired with HIV-related stigmatization and discrimination, which hindered employment, increased participants’ social isolation and exacerbated their struggles with addiction. Families were participants’ primary source of financial, employment, and emotional support, but addiction-related family tensions also had negative psychological effects. Participants identified methadone maintenance treatment as an effective means of overcoming addiction, yet few could fully benefit from this treatment due to its limited availability.

Conclusion

Our study suggests that PWID released from “06 centers” would greatly benefit from the scale-up of community-based harm reduction measures that include addiction and HIV treatment, coupled with employment-support and family centered mental health services.