A qualitative exploration of perceived gender differences in methamphetamine use among women who use methamphetamine on the Mexico–U.S. border

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Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse

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© 2016, Copyright © Taylor & Francis. The purpose of this study is to extend the research on contextual factors that influence the initiation and continued use of methamphetamine (meth) by women on the U.S.-Mexico border. At present, a minimal body of literature exists that explores meth use on the Mexico-U.S. border. A purposeful sample of 20 women who were active meth users aged ≥18 years was recruited by trained outreach workers from a variety of meth-user networks in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the city bordering El Paso, Texas. Respondents participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews including questions on users’ perceived familial, social, and environmental influences of meth use. Gender-based themes emerged from the analysis: (1) patterns of meth use; (2) places where drugs were used; (3) effects of relationship networks on meth use; (4) differential access to drugs; (5) trading sex for drugs; (6) perceived class differences; and (7) long-term drug use and its consequences. Respondents reported a preference for using meth as powder or pills as opposed to smoking or injecting the drug. They reported being introduced to meth by men they trust and relying on men for drug acquisition in spaces less accessible and more dangerous to women. They described how the drug changed their lifestyle and their behavior towards family members and friends, including instances of physical and psychological violence. Interventions for women on the Mexico-U.S. border should be developed based on users’ social networks to target social processes to prevent initiation and to bring active meth users into treatment.





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