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Purpose The purpose of this article is to provide nurse practitioners (NPs) with more effective strategies to diagnose methamphetamine (MA) use and assess healthcare needs of MA-using women. Data sources The researchers collected data from 65 suburban women who were MA users living in the suburbs of a large southeastern city in the United States. We conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups examining their life history, drug history, risk behaviors, and access to health care. The qualitative findings are examined here. Conclusions Three main themes emerged from the data: (a) gendered stigmatization of MA use; (b) MA-related health risk behaviors; and (c) barriers to health and social services, which resulted in a domino effect that led to further life and health complications. When these factors are not effectively addressed, the result is more serious health problems for the women and their children. Implications for practice This article offers awareness and assessment tools to provide NPs adequate knowledge about the factors associated with MA use in order to treat patients holistically. NPs are strategically positioned to effectively assess, diagnose, treat, and provide linkage to health and social services, especially for suburban females who are a hidden population of drug users. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


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