Psychosocial stress and methamphetamine use: A mixed-methods study of intersectional stigma and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methamphetamine use

Leda Sivak, Rachel Reilly, Jane Lockton, Carla Treloar, Yvette Roe, Rebecca McKetin, Julia Butt, Nadine Ezard, Hilina Winkenweder, James Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Regular methamphetamine use can cause a range of physical, psychological and social harms. Stigma is one factor that impacts engagement and successful completion of treatment. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who regularly use methamphetamine experience multiple stigmas, which further compounds access to treatment and quality of life. This paper explores the cumulative and compounding effects of participating in a stigmatised activity such as illicit drug use in relation to the stigma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a population marginalised through colonisation. Methods: Ten sites nationally participated in a cross-sectional survey measuring a range of factors including psychosocial stress in methamphetamine users. The survey sample size was 734, with 59% identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (n = 433). In addition, a total of 147 mainly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use methamphetamine, community and family members, and service providers took part in a total of 19 focus groups and 7 interviews. Results: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants experienced multiple psychosocial stressors at significantly higher rates than non-Indigenous participants. These stressors include diminished access to health care (33%), experiences of racism (34%), grief and sorrow (39%), worry for family (46%), and child welfare experiences (46%). The qualitative findings highlight the cumulative impact of historical, political and social stressors on an already stigmatised population. Conclusions: The findings of this unique analysis demonstrate the disruptive impact of methamphetamine use on the lives of those who use methamphetamines and their family members. They also illustrate challenges, such as stigma, that may confront those seeking assistance for drug-related issues. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community involvement is necessary to provide support and education for the individual, the family, and the community as a whole. Stigma reduction is therefore a worthy target for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104189
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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