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Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of reinitiation into methamphetamine abusers: qualitative findings from an exploration of methamphetamine abusers in Shanghai, China
  1. Youwei Zhu1,
  2. Na Zhong1,
  3. Hang Su1,
  4. Xiaolu Ruan1,
  5. Jiayi Bao1,
  6. Lei Zhang1,
  7. Jiang Du1,
  8. Ding Xu2,
  9. Rongjie Ding3,
  10. Ke Xiao3 and
  11. Min Zhao4
  1. 1Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  2. 2Shanghai Bureau of Drug Administration, Shanghai, China
  3. 3Shanghai Gaojing Compulsory Drug Dependence Treatment Center, Shanghai, China
  4. 4Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Min Zhao; drminzhao{at}


Background Despite high relapse rate among methamphetamine (MA) abusers, there still have been little empirical data to date detecting the risk factors related to craving and relapse from the perspective of MA abusers. Therefore, the aim of this study was to use qualitative research methods exploring the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat factors that could facilitate or impede individuals’ abstinence in a real-life context from the perspectives of MA abusers.

Aim To use qualitative research methods exploring the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat factors relating to individuals’ abstinence in a real-life context.

Method Semistructured interviews were conducted with 32 MA abusers recruited in Shanghai guided by open-ended questions on narrating the real-life catalysts and inhibitors related to craving, initiation, relapse and abstinence. All data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.

Results The results of the SWOT analysis revealed that contextual factors including peer influence, prevalence and availability of MA, familiar venue of MA use, discrimination, sexual behaviours, alcohol, emotional states and their attitudes towards smoking MA were important factors that contribute to reinitiation and relapse. Surveillance systems, antidrug social workers, vocational skills trainings, moving to another city and family responsibility might serve as counter measures targeting those mentioned weaknesses and threats above.

Conclusion This SWOT analysis highlights the complex nature of relapse. Comprehensive interventions strengthening coping skills such as virtual reality techniques are desperately needed to facilitate individuals’ sustained abstinence.

  • methamphetamine
  • qualitative research
  • relapse
  • abstinence
  • SWOT analysis

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  • Contributors YZ and NZ are responsible for the statistical analysis and the writing of the paper. HS and JD are responsible for English language editing. XR, JB and LZ are in charge of transcription interview data. DX, RD and KX help organise the interviews. MZ is responsible for the scientific design of the study. JD and MZ are responsible for the data checking and literature evaluation of the paper.

  • Funding The study was funded by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC1310400), National Nature Science Foundation of China (U1502228, 81501148), Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission (2014ZYJB0002), Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission Clinical Research Project (20184Y0134), Program of Shanghai Academic Research Leader (17XD1403300), Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders (13DZ2260500) and Qihang Project of Shanghai Mental Health Center (2018-QH-02).

  • Disclaimer The funders have no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Ethics approval All protocols and materials were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Shanghai Mental Health Center.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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