University of Florida researchers, led by Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the department of epidemiology and PHHP associate dean for research and planning, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date of drug and alcohol use in Afghanistan. The majority of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan, but little research exists on the risk factors associated with illicit drug use in that country. The UF study is the first study of substance use in Afghanistan to assess both self-report questionnaire responses (from female heads of households) and laboratory tests.
Participants included members of 2,187 randomly-selected households. In each home, the female head of household was asked about family members’ lifetime and past 30 day use of opium, heroin, cannabis, prescription drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and the reasons for use. Researchers also collected hair, urine and saliva samples from the female head of household, the eldest male and the youngest child between the ages of 4 and 14, a total of more than 5,000 individuals.
The findings appear in the October 2014 issue of Lancet Global Health.