Substance abuse is more than just a health problem; it is a formidable moral, social, and economic challenge of pandemic proportions. Palestine is not an exception to this problem, and the trend of use is increasing. Healthcare providers, primary care physicians, pharmacists, patients themselves, and their families, can all play a role in identifying and preventing prescription drug abuse.
The study population included 205 public pharmacies distributed across the Gaza Strip governorates. Data was collected by means of an interview questionnaire administered to pharmacists working in the pharmacies.
The aim of the study was to identify and verify several variables and attributes affecting drug abuse, including the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pharmacists, and to study and analyze the drug abuse situation in the Gaza Strip.
The majority of pharmacists (90.2%) acknowledged drug addiction as an existing phenomenon in the Gaza Strip society, and 32.2% of pharmacists believed that the physician, the pharmacist, and the inspection department all shared the responsibility for its existence. Most pharmacists believed that the increased anxiety and tension in the community was the most common reason for this increase in demand for drugs. Approximately 50.2% of pharmacists did not believe that their colleagues dispensed any of the controlled drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Approximately 89.8% of pharmacists were convinced of the need for a medical prescription to dispense any of the drugs listed, and of these 89.8%, 84.8% did not dispense any of the controlled drugs to a person they suspected of being dependent on drugs, even if that person had a medical prescription. Hence, the study showed no significant relationship.
The study showed that drug abuse is an existing phenomenon in the Gaza Strip and there is a lack of attention to reduce its spread and impact on society. There are similarities between female and male pharmacists in the Gaza Strip with regard to knowledge about drug abuse; however, there are differences in practice and attitude among them.
Physicians, pharmacists, and the inspection department should assume their respective responsibilities toward prevention of drug abuse as a shared responsibility in order to ensure a safe future for the entire community.