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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Drug Treatment Improvements Needed in Mexico

Drug-involved couples in resource-poor communities in Mexico do not get treatment because of financial, social, and institutional barriers, a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher has found.

The study, published online in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, found that while two-thirds of a group of drug-using female sex workers and their intimate male partners in two Mexican border cities reported needing help with drug cessation, only one-third had ever accessed treatment services.

Partners often reported negative past experiences with drug treatment services, which they characterized as being of poor quality and limited accessibility and affordability. Outpatient methadone was experienced more positively, but financial constraints limited couples’ access and treatment duration, the study found. Relapse was common, particularly when one partner enrolled alone while the other continued using drugs.

The study, led by Dr. Angela Robertson Bazzi, assistant professor of community health sciences, recommends several improvements, including improving partners’ abilities to enter treatment at the same time, increasing access to methadone and other outpatient services, and expanding mental health and social support services for affected couples and families.

“In the context of Mexico’s ongoing decriminalization of drug use and expansion of substance-use treatment services nationally, our study points to a need for programs to consider the social and structural contexts that support or hinder recovery efforts in underserved urban communities,” Dr. Bazzi said. “Overall, our findings suggest that, in addition to improving and expanding access to methadone clinics, additional outpatient treatment and recovery-support services and better linkages to mental and physical healthcare services are also urgently needed.”

To read more about the study, go to: