Islamic Republic of Iran


Follow-Up Booster Sessions on Psychosocial Intervention, Overdose, and Motivational Interviewing


Tehran, 23 May 2023- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has taken a significant step in addressing the issue of drug use disorders among women in Iran. In collaboration with the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ), the organization has organized a series of training workshops aimed at providing psychosocial intervention and social support to women struggling with substance abuse.


The latest in this series of workshops were booster sessions that focused on three key areas: the importance of psychosocial support in helping women reintegrate into society, motivational interviewing techniques, and overdose essential care and practice. The previous two workshops were held in Tehran in late October and early November of 2022 and were facilitated by two experts in the field: Ms. Leila Arshad, a renowned rehabilitation pioneer for women with drug use disorders in Iran, and Dr. Setareh Mohsenifar, a certified TreatNet trainer and former UNODC Iran expert. The ‘Prevention and management of drug overdose’ was facilitated by Dr. Hossein Hassanian-Moghadam an expert and associated professor, and a clinical toxicologist.  

The workshop was opened by a message from the UNODC Iran Country Representative, Mr. Alexander Fedulov, who emphasized the importance of practical training that provides a basis for the incorporation of learned content in everyday practice. Mr. Fedulov stated that UNODC places a high priority on improving the skills of managers, experts, and service providers in incorporating training content into their daily work. The booster sessions provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss the incorporation of learned content, resolve any issues, and exchange experiences with facilitators, experts, and colleagues in the field. Mr. Fedulov highlighted the importance of addressing the unique challenges faced by women with drug use disorders and the critical role of psychosocial interventions, motivational interviewing, and overdose management in their treatment. He underscored UNODC’s commitment to develop the capacities of those working in the field and to provide better support to women with drug use disorders, and the organization's commitment to walking their talk and working together with national partners to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by this pressing public health issue. Dr. Majid Ghorbani, Director General for Treatment and Social Support of the DCHQ, reiterated the issue of drug use among women has become a growing concern in recent years showing an inclination towards drugs. There are certain sociocultural factors at play for this trend and as a result, there is a greater responsibility on the shoulders of treatment offices and social support systems to address the challenges faced by women with drug use disorders. He emphasized on the importance of addressing the cultural aspects of the problem, as well as the need for increased knowledge and awareness about the issue.

During the session on Psychosocial Interventions, Ms. Arshad reviewed the previous concepts and approaches learnt in the main training and the meetings shared their inputs from their respective centres. The meeting reached a conclusion on the challenges and way forward on easing the introduction of psychosocial approaches. In the overdose session Dr. Hassanian-Moghadam focused on the Mental Health Gap Action Programme Intervention Guide for substance use (mhGAP-IG SUB), a developed tool by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help non-specialist healthcare providers to diagnose, treat, and manage substance use disorders. The presenter provided guidance for healthcare providers on how to manage substance use disorders, including alcohol and drug use disorders. Dr. Hassanian covered a range of topics, such as conducting a substance use assessment, providing brief interventions for substance use disorders, and managing withdrawal symptoms. Finally, Dr. Mohsenifar did a role play in applying approaches learnt in the main training and reviewed the concepts during the group works and role plays. The meeting shared their experiences on applying core techniques of the Motivational Interviewing in their respective centers.

UNODC Iran supports the vulnerable population including women with drug use disorders through tailored training sessions, building the capacity of service providers and healthcare workers, and promoting awareness and education about drug use disorders. By taking a gender-sensitive approach and addressing the unique challenges faced by women with drug use disorders, UNODC Iran helps to improve access to mental health services and ensures that vulnerable populations receive the care they need. Through these efforts, UNODC Iran is working to promote more inclusive and equitable mental health care for all, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, or other factors that may create barriers to care.