Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Regional Comparison of Drug Use in the Czech Republic in 2002: Situation Analysis in Wider Demographic and Socioeconomic Contexts

Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Regional Comparison of Drug Use in the Czech Republic in 2002: Situation Analysis in Wider Demographic and Socioeconomic Contexts

Article excerpt

This paper describes regional differences in the extent of drug use within the Czech Republic, especially in regard to wider demographic, socioeconomic, and institutional contexts. It documents the relationship that exists between the presence of environmental risk factors and the extent of related risk behaviors (e.g., criminal behavior or problematic use of psychotropic substances). Available sociodemographic and economic indicators collected from 14 regions were assessed in light of the data on the extent of criminality, distribution and funding of services for drug users, and the extent of drug use. Further on, correlation, factor and cluster analyses were made to closely observe the relationship of individual indicators and to assess the similarities within the regions. The analysis reveals that within the Czech Republic (its geographic size is similar to that of the state of South Carolina), substantial differences exist in terms of risk behaviors and drug use. The analysis illustrates that regions exhibiting the highest number of environmental risk factors also experience higher levels of personal risk taking. That is, both high drug use prevalence and negative indicators of drug use consequences are concentrated in regions experiencing extensive social problems. These findings can facilitate better targeting of the scarce resources that are designated every year for drug policy by directing them in the future to the neediest locales experiencing most severe drug-related problems. Existing regional differences should also be considered when formulating and implementing health, social, and drug policies at the national and regional levels.

INTRODUCTION

Contemporary monitoring (surveillance) of drug use and related phenomena in the Czech Republic is above the average of the EU (Mravcik et al., 2003; European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction [EMCDDA], 2003a; EMCDDA, 2003b). Experts have collected a great deal of research data that provides an overview of the extent and patterns of drug use, the consequences of such use, and the behaviors and attitudes of drug users. But still, there is a lack of detailed information on the situation in different regions of the country and on the impacts of demographic, socioeconomic, and cultural (i.e., environmental) factors on the extent of drug use and its consequences.

An abundance of international research now suggests that drug use-though it can also be seen as an individual choice of each particular person-is strongly impacted by features of the surrounding environment (Douglas & Wildavsky, 1982; Douglas, 1992; Kadushin, Reber, Saxe, & Livert, 1998). Palm and Zabransky (2001 ) have argued that the phenomenon of drug use has its "social diagnosis"- it is interrelated with many social phenomena and should be assessed only in this context when the "diagnosis" should lead to an effective "treatment." According to Marmot ( 1997), alcohol and drug use rates are closely related to inequality in social conditions in socially deprived regions. A relationship has been identified among low socioeconomic status, unhealthy lifestyles, and psychosocial characteristics of the inhabitants of specific areas and among members of specific communities (Lynch, Kaplan, & Salonen, 1997; Freisthler et al., 2005). Others (e.g., Forsyth & Barnard, 1999; James, Wagner & Anthony, 2002) have shown that urban regions exhibit different rates and patterns of drug use as compared with rural regions. The presence of high risk environments also significantly impacts the prevalence and incidence of injecting drug use and the spread of drug-related infectious diseases (HBV, HCV, and HIV/AIDS) (Rhodes et al., 1999).

METHODS AND DATA SOURCES

The situation analysis describes regional disparities on the basis of selected demographic, social, economic, and institutional indicators, and the indicators of drug use and its consequences. For each area, only few representative indicators were selected that display regional differences; data sets were retrieved from existing databases and regularly collected data were used. …

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