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There is no doubt that Palestinians are living in a politically and economically repressive sociopolitical context, due to the brutal Israeli military occupation. As stated in a report by the Palestinian National Institute of Health (PNIH), “Palestinians face political violence, house demolitions, arrests, restrictions to movement, and encroachment on their land” (2017). Moreover, “civilians suffer during conflict and war from destruction of the community infrastructure and from personal stress due to disruption of services and the non-fulfillment of basic human needs” (Giacaman et al., 2004). This often leads to severe mental duress and a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression among young Palestinians (Wagner et al., 2020). As a result, many Palestinian youth have turned to illicit drug use to cope with their circumstances and escape their current reality (PNIH, 2017). In this paper, I will explore the relationship between structural military violence and illicit drug use among youth living under occupation in Palestine. More particularly, I hope to examine the consequences of structural violence on mental health, and in turn, on drug use as a form of self-medication and escapism. The methodology used will consist of a secondary literature review of relevant research in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and health sciences.

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