Adolescents living in urban slums of Dhaka are subject to myriad vulnerabilities and challenges. Additionally, adolescents’ exposure to substance abuse caused by the availability and accessibility of drugs in urban slums is another pressing issue. Studies have been conducted to explore the prevalence of substance abuse in the country; however, there is no evidence-based study that identifies the relation between experiences of adolescents in urban slums, and the factors influencing their choices around substances. Moreover, the existing policies of Bangladesh focused on children and adolescents do not explicitly address substance abuse. The aim of this study was to collect evidence on the lived realities of adolescents in urban slums and their perceptions regarding substance abuse.
The findings identify external factors influencing substance abuse – poverty, lack of recreation and play, lack of employment opportunities, lack of parental supervision, prevalence of local gangs and influence of “boro bhai”, and lack of safety and justice. Recommendations have been developed for future policy and programming for adolescents living in urban slums.
Zafar, A., Ahmed Raha, S., Rana, S. and Zahra Fariha, M. (2021) ‘Exploring older adolescents’ (age 15–19) perceptions about substance abuse in urban slums: Policy brief’. Dhaka: BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University.