Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Trends in Drug Abuse
Extent of Drug Abuse:
Volatile solvents are the most abused drugs, according to a students study in 10 state capitals in 1989, with an estimated prevelance of 17.3 per cent. Tranquilizers (7.2 per cent) are the next most abused drugs, followed by amphetamines (3.9 per cent), cannabis (3.4 per cent) and cocaine (0.7 per cent) (Ministry of Health 1990)
Volatile solvents are the most abused drugs among street children, according to a 1987 survey, with annual prevalence estimated at 44 per cent and daily abuse estimated at 21.1 per cent. The corresponding estimates for school students are 14.6 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. Cannabis is the next most abused drug, with annual prevalence estimated at 28 per cent, and daily abuse estimated at 12 per cent, among street children. Tranquilizers are also abused, with annual prevalence estimated at 5.1 per cent among students while daily abuse is estimated at 0.5 per cent for students and 1.8 per cent for street children (U.N. 1988).
According to a poll taken by the Sao Paulo School of Medicine in the country's 10 largest capitals, one out of every four students (first and secondary level) has already smoked cannabis or sniffed cocaine at least once in his/her life (Ministries of Health and of Justice 1989).
The studies reported by Brazilian sources appear to focus on high risk drug abusers and students. Their findings, although indicating concern relating to drug abuse in Brazil, should be interpreted with caution due to high variability.
Abusers Characteristics: According to a 1987 study on students in the 10 largest cities in Brazil, men consume cannabis and volatile solvents more than women, while women consume amphetamines and tranquilizers more than men (Ministries of Health and of Justice 1989).
Tranquilizers are abused mostly by women (80 per cent), with high concentration in the 12-17 age range (U.N. 1988).
Volatile solvents such as glue, a preparation made of ether and chloroform called "lolo" as well as anti-cholinergics are most consumed by street children and youth aged 8-17 (U.N. 1988).
In a 1989 study, students in private schools reported more "ever" abuse of any drug than public school students (Ministry of Health 1990).
Regional Variation: Brasilia is the city with the highest incidence of drug abuse overall, but Rio de Janeiro has the highest incidence of abuse of cocaine according to a 1987 study of students in the 10 largest cities in Brazil (Ministries of Health and of Justice 1989).
According to a survey in 1986-1987 in Sao Paulo City, 95 per cent of the street children reported "ever" abuse of volatile solvents. Daily abuse reached near 25 per cent of the surveyed children (U.N. 1988). Abuse of volatile solvents is reported as experimental among students in urban areas but high among street children. In 1989, more than 40 per cent of the street children in Sao Paulo were classified as moderate or heavy abusers and nearly 20 per cent in Porto Alergre and Fortaleza (Ministry of Health 1990).
Porto Alegre is the only city where there are more female than male drug abusers. Differences in lifetime abuse are not significant but the data showed that 55 per cent of the women had used drugs more than 10 times, while the corresponding figure for men was 47 per cent (Ministries of Health and of Justice 1989).
In 1992, crack was reported as the drug most consumed in Sao Paulo (Folha de S.P., 1993).
Trends: According to the Sao Paulo School of Medicine poll, frequent drug consumption among students is increasing at a rate of nearly 25 per cent every two years. In a poll taken by the Rio de Janeiro State University in 1980, only 3 out of 100 students in Rio had already consumed drugs. In 1991, the figure was 20 out of 100 (JPRS 1991).
There was a 23.8 per cent increase in lifetime drug abuse from 1987 (21.1 per cent) to 1989 (26.1 per cent) (Ministry of Health 1990).
Mode of Intake: Tranquilizers are ingested, volatile solvents are inhaled, and anti-cholinergics are both ingested and injected (U.N. 1988). There are indications that unsafe injection practices lead to the spread of HIV infections. The city of Santos has the highest per capita number of AIDS cases in Brazil and most cases are attributed to the practice of injecting cocaine (UNDCP Brazilia 1991).

Costs and Consequences of Abuse
Incidence of drug injection is on the increase and is considered the main cause of HIV infection (over 30 per cent). According to a study with 160 IDVUs in Santos, the seroprevalance rate was 59 per cent. The vast majority injected straight cocaine (91 per cent) and the rest barbiturates, tranquilizers and amphetamines (UNDCP Brazilia 1991). AIDS is more prevalent among IVDU's than among homosexuals in Sao Paulo. Most affected is the 15-19 years old age group, where 62 per cent of the females and 67 per cent of the males have IDVU caused AIDS (Journal do Brasil 1993).
There is no reported integration between the drug prevention authorities and the AIDS division at the Ministry of Health (UNDCP Brazilia 1992).

National Responses to Drug Abuse
National Strategy:
National legislation has been enacted to regulate the production, trafficking, and use of drugs. There are no reports of coordination at the national level to address the problem of drug abuse (PAHO 1990).

Actions Taken to Implement Internationa Drug Control Treaties**
Treaty Adherence: Brazil is party to the 1961 Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 Convention and the 1988 Convention.

Demand Reduction Activities
Primary Prevention:
A UN funded national prevention campaign conducted in 1990 is the only reported national primary prevention programme in Brazil (PAHO 1990).
Courses on drug abuse prevention are offered to physicians, the principle health professionals invovled in treating drug abuse, by several professional organizations. No educational institutions are reported to offer such courses at the undergraduate or graduate levels (U.N. 1988).
Treatment and Rehabilitation: In 1987, 3274 patients were admitted to psychiatric hospitals for treatment of drug dependency. A reported 31.1 per cent were cannabis abusers. The second most abused drug was cocaine (15.3 per cent). Other drugs abused included morphine, barbiturates, amphetamines, hallucinogens and others. Most of the patients are men (90.3 per cent). In 1989, 3062 patients were admitted for treatment. Cannabis was the most abused drug specified (29.4 per cent), followed by cocaine (16.2 per cent). The drug of dependency was not specified in 25.3 per cent of the cases in 1987 and 31.8 per cent in 1989 (Ministry of Health 1990).
No predominant approach to the treatment of addicts is reported. General clinicians, psychologists and social workers are all involved in treatment (U.N. 1988).

Supply Reduction Activities
Arrests, Convictions and Types of Offences
: In 1987, 3,967 people were convicted by the Federal Police, 2,958 for drug traffic and 1,009 for illicit drug abuse (Ministries of Health and of Justice 1989).
The number of arrests due to traffic or possession of illicit drugs decreased from 2,876 persons in 1988 to 2,283 persons in 1992 (CICAD 1993).
Seizures: Drugs seized in 1991 include cannabis herb (7,471.100 kg), cannabis plants (1,636,981.200 kg), cocaine (4,071.792 kg), morphine, hallucinogens and LSD (Other 1991).
In 1992, the civil police in Sao Paulo seized 4 536 kg of cocaine, four times the quantity seized in 1989. Cannabis seizures increased over the same period by almost 300 per cent to 458 kg (Folha de Sao Paulo 1993).
Supply Sources of Drugs: Brazil is one of the most important route for cocaine trafficking in South America. The harbour of Santos is the biggest in South America, and most of the cocaine that goes to the USA or Europe, comes from this city (UNDCP Brazilia 1991).

References and Notes

** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was not available by 15 January 1994.

U.N. 1988 Reply to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire.

Folha de Sao Paulo 1993. Tognolli,Claudio Julio. "Crack se alastra e lidera consumo em SP". Folha de Sao Paulo. 2 february 1993.

Journal do Brasil 1993. da Silveira, Evanildo. "Drogas mudamo o perfil da Aids no Brasil". Journal do Brasil. February 1993.

JPRS 1991 Latin America, 23 April, 1991. (JPRS-TDD-91-017-L)

Ministry of Health 1990. Carlini, E.A., Carlini-Cotrim,Beatriz, and Nappo, Solange A. "Illicit Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Brazilian Cities: 1987-1989". Proceedings of the Community Epidemiology Work Group, Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse. U.S. Department of Health and Human Servives, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research. Rockville, Maryland. June 1990.

Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice, 1989. Psychotropic Drugs Consumption in Brazil in 1987. Centre de Documentacao do Ministerio da Saude. Brasilia. 1989

Other 1991. Obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by the Government or from other official sources for the year 1991

PAHO 1990. Murrelle, Lenn, Escalona, Rodrigo, and Floenzano, Ramon. "Epidemiology Report on the Use and Abuse of Psychoactive Substances in 16 Countries of Latin America and the Carribean. Bulletin of the Pan American Health Organization, Vol. 24, no.1, pp.97-140,1990.

UNDCP Brazilia 1991 UNDCP Field Adviser report