"Female Drug Users - Problems and Challenges"

(Working Paper)

Elene Japaridze, September 2012


The purpose of the present paper is to review the attitudes to drug related issues in Georgia, particularly from the perspective of gender. Using qualitative research methods (in depth interviews), I aim to explore the attitudes of Georgian drug experts to drug addiction and drug-dependent people, taking gender factors into consideration.

The main goal of this study, is to reveal the factors that the experts consider as causes of drug dependence; to determine their attitude towards male and female drug users and find out what similarities and differences they see in the addictive behavior of males and females, as well as in the treatment process; and to find out whether they use different approaches in the treatment of patients due to the peculiarities of their gender, how they explain the motives for tasting drugs by males and females, how differently they characterize their patients due to their gender, and whether they think that the factor of gender should be taken into consideration in the process of treatment.

The Georgian society often focuses its energy and resources narrowly on the so-called majority of any population of interest. In drug abuse research, this means studying males or adding women into male-biased paradigms that ignore how gender organizes all human and social life. However, we now know from other studies about the minority group (i.e., female substance abusers) that drug abuse manifests itself differently in the lives of males and females, including patterns of drug use, psycho-social characteristics, physiological consequences of drug use, and treatment needs (Clark, 2001).

I think that the knowledge of the opinions and attitudes of the experts about the aforementioned issues will contribute significantly to the planning of future studies and development of the systems of more elaborated treatment, because the information we receive will make it clearer which issues remain outside the focus in the experts' work on the issue of drug addiction and to what they should pay particular attention.