Rescuing Israeli travellers: effects of substance abuse, mental health, geographic region of rescue, gender and age of rescuees

Hagit Bonny-Noach, Moran Sagiv-Alayoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Research conducted on young Israeli travellers has pointed to high substance usage rates. For some drug-using backpackers, actual extraction and rescue from their trip abroad is necessary. This study represents a first attempt to explore the influence of geographic region in which rescue occurs, cause for rescue and gender and age differences among Israeli rescuees. Methods: Sub-analysis of all logs of individual rescuees during a 5-year period from 2011 to 2016 (N=86) included 66 men and 20 women, with an average age of 27.83 (SD=7.86). Results: The findings demonstrate that Israelis are most frequently rescued from South and Southeast Asia (57%) followed by Europe (22%), South America (17%), North America (2.3%) and Africa (1.2%). India was the country with the highest rate of rescue incidents (N=36) followed by Thailand (N=8) and the Netherlands (N=5). The most common cause for rescue was substance abuse (87%). However, significant regional differences were found based on the variable of age (F=3.21, df=3,50, P<0.05). The youngest rescuees were evacuated from South America (M=24.20 years, SD=3.8), while the oldest were from Europe (M=32.86 years, SD=10.9). The most frequent mental diagnosis for rescuees was acute psychosis due to substance use disorder (81%) and bipolar disorder, manic subtype due to substance abuse (7%). Significant gender differences were found among rescuees diagnosed with bipolar disorder, manic type: 25% were female, while men only accounted for 1.5% (v2=61.70, df=24, P<0.0001). Conclusions: Region, age and gender of young travellers should be taken into consideration when thinking about induced acute psychosis caused by substance use. Policymakers need to consider prevention and harm reduction interventions relevant to this risk group.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA273
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Israel
  • Travellers
  • backpackers
  • drugs
  • dual diagnosis
  • rescue
  • substance use


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