Gender, violence and being homeless: the experience of women and high risk drug use

The care directed to people who have problems with drug use is provided, for the most serious cases, at the Psychosocial Care Center for alcohol and other drugs (CAPSad), an extra-hospital device offered by the secondary sector, where cases receive multiprofessional attention to ensure comprehensive care, which must be expressed through a wide range complex treatment plan.

The insertion of nurses in substitutive services has demanded that these professionals develop new knowledge built from their role as a therapeutic agent, whose actions must be directed to an interdisciplinary practice. Providing health care in an open service that is community based and focused on the territory allows nurses and other professionals of the multidisciplinary team to reach aspects of patient’s life that are would not be reached if in contact with traditional clinics, and to develop actions that meet the specificities of each person assisted.

Thinking of comprehensive care for women requires specificities such as gender construction to be considered, both with regard to aspects related to femininity and masculinity, and in matters related to socioeconomic status, race/color and generation. In this perspective, the power relations that permeate social interaction should also be considered, especially with regard to the place that the person occupies in society, the existence of a social support network, integration into the labor market, psychological conditions, among other elements.

From the perspective of comprehensive care, organization/coordination between the services and knowledge of the territory in which the woman is inserted becomes relevant. It is worth considering the place reserved for the exercise of the Expanded Clinic where the subject is seen in its many dimensions and social, economic, labor, family and subjective needs, comprising a reading of the health needs in its broader concept and not in a restrictive, biologicist conception. The clinic’s expanded conception points to the importance of assisting people, to focus the attention on the person, not the substances, escaping the restrictive stigma awarded by drug use.

There is need to build complex, resolutory answers to ensure comprehensive care, especially in a society in which violence against women and the abuse of psychoactive substances (SPA’s) constitute current public health issues. In this study, high risk use is considered not only as the regular use of a psychoactive substance, but one that interferes with the performance of the person’s activities, damaging family relationships, work, living.

In this context, following women who use drugs in a problematic way in their spaces of social interaction, enables vulnerability and protection elements these women are exposed to and that interfere in their health-disease processes to be known. Knowing the specificities of people who use drugs in their life contexts, instrumentalize the nurse and the multidisciplinary team in the production of natural care strategies, expanding the effectiveness of individual therapeutic plans constructed according to the psychosocial care model, adopted by CAPSad.

Given these considerations, this article aims to describe experiences of women who use drugs in their life context. The achievement of this objective is a way to give prominence to their stories and subsidize the construction of effective interventions.

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Revista Gaúcha de Enfermagem