OAS Presents Report on Drug Use in the Americas, 2002-2009

ZIZ News…March 21 2012 — The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS) released today in Bogota the Report on Drug Use in the Americas, 2011, the first comparative analysis of drug trends in OAS member states, covering the period of 2002-2009.

The report points out that among licit drugs alcohol is the most widely used, while among illicit drugs marijuana is most prevalent, and notes the spread of cocaine use in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also warns about the dangers of toxicity in cocaine base paste, a drug whose use is relatively infrequent but with highly adverse effects on health.

“Without scientific information, it is impossible to create good public policies to confront the problem successfully,” said Ambassador Paul Simons, CICAD Executive Secretary.

The need for up-to-date, valid and reliable information on drug issues is central to drafting successful drug policies. This point is reiterated in the Hemispheric Drug Strategy, approved by CICAD in 2010, that underscores the need for public policies being based on scientific evidence.

“The most important finding of the report is the realization that there is no single drug problem in the Hemisphere,” added Ambassador Simons. “The reality that our countries live is very diverse, both regarding the type of drugs that are used and the patterns of use. This report aims to show the reality of each country, instead of making comparisons among them.”

The report, which was prepared by CICAD’s Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID) based on the information provided by the national observatories or equivalent agencies of the countries, represents a strong effort by the OAS member states to improve policies in benefit of the population.

Francisco Cumsille, OID chief, said, “We can observe differential patterns across regions and sub regions, as well as differences within each country, which require specific public policies that respond to the different realities in which our countries live.”

The report points out that alcohol use is prevalent in almost all countries. However, the countries with greater prevalence of alcohol use are not necessarily the ones that have high levels of risky behavior with this substance. Above all, there is a special concern for the high prevalence of alcohol use in the school age population (13-17 years old).

According to the report, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among secondary students of most countries, although in some countries, the use of inhalants (chemical breathable vapors that produce psychoactive effects — like solvents that contain toluene — and are freely available in the open market) is higher than marijuana use in the same population segment. The document also noted that some countries that have carried out studies of the university population have observed that the use of inhalants among women surpasses the use of marijuana in this group.

Cumsille said, “The use of cocaine has spread throughout almost all of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is no longer a drug solely exported to the north, for instance, because about 27% of cocaine consumers in the Hemisphere are found in South America.”

Cumsille added finally, “Regarding cocaine base paste, a drug used almost exclusively in South America, its use is relatively low but the drug has a more detrimental impact on health than other drugs, converting it into a problem that the affected countries already are following closely”.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

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