This study describes the initiation and maintenance of illicit drug use, risky behaviors, and the substance use treatment experiences of women in Georgia. Qualitative interviews with 55 drug-using women (mean age 36 years; SD = 9.52), were conducted during April-September 2011. Participants presented diverse histories of drug use initiation and substance use, risky behaviors, and drug treatment participation. All participants reported concurrent use of different substances, including home-produced injection preparations. Women described their experiences of both the positive and negative effects (physical and psychological) that they attributed to their use of drugs. Findings enrich our understanding of the environment in which substance use is initiated and maintained in a female population in Georgia, and illustrate the importance of culture and the role of social factors in the development of injection drug use. Results can provide direction for tailoring the development of interventions for substance use disorders, public policy discussions regarding the treatment of women who use drugs, and future research on substance use among women in Georgia and other post-Soviet nations.
Keywords: Caucasus region; homemade drugs; injection drug use; substance use; women-focused treatment.