Conflicts and displacements have high impact on mental health due to direct exposure to traumatic events and exposure to increased levels of daily stressors. Post-traumatic stress and other common disorders in conflict or post conflict settings have been well identified however recognition of substance use or abuse and what substances are in use, as well as predictors in conflict settings is sparse. This study aimed to assess the prevalence, types and predictors of recreational drug use among residents of a conflict affected area in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. This was a cross sectional study. We used consecutively sampling to interview 387 adults on recreational drug use in Mamfe a peri-urban town in conflict hit South West Region of Cameroon. Prevalence of ever and current use of recreational drugs were calculated, binary logistic regression was used to identify predictors of ever and current use of recreational drugs. 264 (68.22%) participants had (ever) used drugs for recreational purposes and 252 (65.12%) were current users. Of the 10 different recreational drugs detected, Alcohol (65.4 = 36%), cigarette (25.32%) and opioids (12.14%) were the most consumed. After multivariate analyses, age range of 35 to 54 years (AOR 1.65, 95% CI 0.79 to 3.48), male gender (AOR 3.47, 95% CI 2.03 to 5.94), and being a student (AOR 10.51, 95% CI: 1.15 to 95.93) were significantly associated with higher likelihood of ever used drugs for recreational purposes. Being internally displaced (AOR 0.81, 95% CI: 0.44 to 1.50) significantly predicted higher likelihood of current use of recreational drugs. Employment status of housewife (AOR 0.47, 95% CI: 0.03 to 8.64) predicted lower odds of recreational drug use. Recreational drug use is common among people living in the conflict affected area of Southwest of Cameroon. while housewives are less likely to use recreational drugs. Mental health interventions in conflict settings in low income settings should target male adults >35years and students as these are at high risks of recreational drug use as well as IDP’s as they deal with multiple stressors due to displacement.
Key words: Recreational drugs, predictors, conflict-affected area.
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