Residential and inpatient treatment of substance use disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy








Addiction; And alcohol rehabilitation; Drug; Drug and alcohol treatment; Sub-Saharan Africa; Substance use disorders


BACKGROUND: With substance use rates increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), an understanding of the accessibility and effectiveness of rehabilitative services for people who use alcohol and other drugs (AOD) is critical in the global efforts to diagnose and treat substance use disorders (SUD). This scoping review seeks to address the gaps in knowledge related to the types of research that have been conducted regarding inpatient or residential SUD treatment in SSA, the settings in which the research was conducted, and the study countries. METHODS: A search of three databases, PubMED, Scopus, and African Index Medicus, was conducted for publications related to the treatment of SUD in inpatient or residential settings in SSA. Articles were screened at the title/abstract level and at full text by two reviewers. Articles eligible for inclusion were original research, conducted in SSA, published in English, included populations who received or were currently receiving treatment for SUD in inpatient or residential settings, or documented demand for SUD services. RESULTS: This scoping review included 82 studies originating from 6 countries in SSA. Three themes emerged within the literature: access and demand for inpatient and residential SUD treatment, quality and outcomes of SUD treatment, and descriptions of the services offered and staffing of these facilities. Barriers to access include financial barriers, limited availability of services, and geographic concentration in cities. Women were shown to access residential and inpatient SUD treatment at lower rates than men, and certain racial groups face unique language and financial barriers in accessing services. Studies indicate mixed success of inpatient and residential SUD treatment in sustained SUD remission for patients. CONCLUSION: There are significant gaps in the literature, driven by a lack of longitudinal studies focused on patient outcomes following treatment and the use of a narrow definition of treatment success. Both structural and non-structural barriers, such as stigma and discrimination, are barriers to access. Further research is needed to evaluate approaches to mitigate these barriers and expand access to residential and inpatient SUD treatment.


Prevention and Community Health