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Subst Use Misuse. 2009;44(8):1070-89. doi: 10.1080/10826080802486301.

Killing time with enjoyment: a qualitative study of initiation into injecting drug use in north-east India.

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Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Level 5, Alan Gilbert Building, 161 Barry Street, Carlton, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Manipur and Nagaland are north-east Indian states characterized by a high prevalence of injecting drug use and HIV in a context of socio-economic underdevelopment and political instability. This qualitative study aims to increase understanding of the contextual factors associated with initiation into injecting drug use in these two states. Forty semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted among injecting drug users (10 women, 30 men) aged 18-28 years in mid-2006. The interview transcripts were thematically analyzed. All participants were initiated into injecting by another person, most commonly a friend and often in the context of well-established social networks. Most were poly-drug users and unsafe injecting practices were frequently associated with the initiation experience. The subjective reasons for deciding to inject were pleasure-seeking, influence of peers, and economic reasons. We hypothesize that initiation into injecting in this part of the world is also linked to ideas of masculinity, and that young men engage in drug use in order to fill a social vacuum created by limited opportunities to meaningfully engage in adult roles within the community. The findings from this study suggest that harm reduction programs need to target (noninjecting) drug users, and that existing social networks could be creatively used to extend the reach of these programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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