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Initiation of methamphetamine use among young Thai drug users: A qualitative study (2008)

Initiation of methamphetamine use among young Thai drug users: A qualitative study (2008)

  1. Jatelka
    Journal of Adolescent Health 2008 January; 42(1): 36–42

    Susan G. Sherman, Danielle German, Bangorn Sirirojn, Nick Thompson, Apinun Aramrattana, and David D. Celentano

    Purpose: Methamphetamine (MA) has become the leading drug of abuse in northern Thailand over the past several years, particularly among youth. The current qualitative study examines factors associated with MA initiation.
    Methods: Between March 2002 and January 2003, 48 in-depth interviews with young MA users were conducted in advance of a randomized, MA harm reduction, peer outreach intervention trial. The interviews were conducted in Chiang Mai city and the surrounding district. Data were inductively analyzed using the constant comparative method common to grounded theory methods. Atlas-ti was used for data management.
    Results: Participants were 57% male and had a median age of 20 years (range: 15–31). A culture of MA ubiquity characterized participants’ initiation stories. Drug ubiquity encompassed three elements: the extent of MA use within peer networks; the availability of MA; and exposure to MA prior to initiation. All participants were introduced to MA by people close to them, most often by their friends. Internal reasons for trying MA were curiosity, a way to lose weight or enhance hard work, and a way to “forget life’s problems.” With the prevalence of MA use among participants’ peers, initiation was characterized as inevitable.
    Conclusions: Initiation was characterized as ubiquitous in terms of peer networks’ use and availability. Due to the prevalent norm of MA use, these data indicate that interventions targeting social networks and young Thais prior to MA initiation are needed.