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Evidence on patterns of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and how to effectively deliver services to address AOD use in humanitarian settings is limited. This study aimed to qualitatively explore the patterns of AOD use among Congolese refugees in Mantapala Refugee Settlement, Zambia as well as members of the surrounding host community. It sought to identify potential appropriate intervention and implementation approaches to address AOD use disorders among conflict-affected populations.

Cannabis and home-brewed alcohol were the substances that were perceived to be most commonly used and have the greatest impact on the community. Participants reported that self-medication, boredom, and relief of daily stressors associated with lack of housing, safety, and employment were reasons that people used AODs. Participants recommended that programming include components to address the underlying causes of AOD use, such as livelihood activities. Stigma due to the criminalisation of and societal ideals and religious beliefs regarding AOD use was identified as a substantial barrier to accessing and seeking treatment.

The findings indicate the need for services to address AOD use in Mantapala Refugee Settlement. Interventions should consider the social and structural determinants of AOD use.

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