Dr Kate Dolan’s Beating Drug Addiction in Tehran: A Women’s Clinic – Q&A

Author and first place winner of the CIBA award for Journalistic Non-Fiction 2021 Dr. Kate Dolan, shows readers a unique and valuable insight in her book Beating Drug Addiction in Tehran: A Women’s Clinic. We had the opportunity to interview her and find out more regarding the topics addressed in this award-winning publication.  


Q: Since writing this book, how has it changed your life and the lives of Iranian women affected by the drug crisis? 

A: I became more aware of how the Iranians respond to drug use problems. I was visiting the UN office in Tehran, and I mentioned how many women who used drugs were at the local pool. The UN lady said they are everywhere. So, I guess I became more attuned to prevalence of drug use among women and their willingness to venture out. 

Q: What can readers do if they wish to be more involved in creating change in Iran?

A: People can help if they stay informed about the current affairs in the country. Look for avenues to help either through donations or sharing the news. We can also talk to our local MPs and express our concern about the violence occurring there and push our government to take action.  

Q: What is the best advice that you have heard to help those suffering from addiction?

A: In order to help people who have an addiction we need to meet them where they are. This means we must avoid trying to impose our wishes on them – “stop using or else!”. Rather accept that addiction is a long-term condition and people often relapse. Self-help support groups are useful for the person and their family. 

Q: Can you elaborate on the larger issues involved with being a woman providing advice within a culture where males dominate?

A: The male director of the centre where we placed our clinic said to me “there is no point in having a lawyer to help the women because the law favours the man”. So, one needs to work within the law, but I did find some women were able to bend the rules. 

Q: What lessons have you learned from the Iranian experience that could be applied to rehab programs in Australia?

A: Iran has several programs that we could use in Australian but don’t. They provided opium tincture. This is an opiate substitute that is more appealing than opioids such as methadone.  

They also had several prisons where they provided needle and syringe programs. Unfortunately, the research on these was faulty and they were ceased. We do not have such a program.  

Q: Do you believe drug use in Iran is stigmatised to a greater or lesser degree than it is here in Australia?

A: That’s a hard one. In Iran I tended to mix with people who were familiar with drugs and users and so saw little stigma. I don’t have a fair opinion of the general person in Iran.  

Click here to get your copy of Beating Drug Addiction in Tehran: A Women’s Clinic

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