Drug Abuse in the Global Village
El Salvador

Trends in drug Abuse

Extent of Drug Abuse: Tranquilizers are the most prevalent drugs abused in El Salvador, according to a 1991 study. About 34 per cent of the population reported having "ever" abused them while 18 per cent are current abusers. Current abuse is more prevalent among females (39.5 per cent) than males (30.6 per cent) (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Stimulants are the next most prevalent drug abused according to the same study. About 29 per cent of the population reported ever abusing them. About 30 per cent are current abusers and 15 per cent abuse them at least one every 15 days. About 33.5 per cent of the current abusers are males and 23.5 per cent females (FUNDASALVA 1991). Cannabis is the next most abused drug. About 17 per cent of the population reported ever abusing it, 3 per cent are current abusers, 18 per cent are males, 9 per cent are females. Almost half of the current abusers smoke cannabis daily, and 30 per cent at least once a week (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Cocaine abuse is not as prevalent. About 3 per cent reported ever abusing it and 0.4 per cent are current abusers. Males current abusers (82 per cent) exceed female (18 per cent) (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Analgesics are the most prevalent drug abused in emergency rooms (78 per cent) and in detention centers (26 per cent), followed by tranquilizers (24 per cent and 13 per cent respectively), stimulants (9.5 per cent and 1.2 per cent), cannabis (7 per cent and 2 per cent), coca-type (cocaine, crack and coca-paste) (1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent), hallucinogens (0.8 per cent both populations) and heroin (0.3 per cent both populations) (CICAD 1993).
Abuser Characteristics:Most cannabis abusers are reported between 15-29 years of age (76 per cent) and of lower socioeconomic levels. The most frequent reason for abuse is to obtain tranquility (45 per cent) or to forget about problems (15 per cent) (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Cocaine abusers are reported distributed between all socioeconomic levels, although more abusers are from the higher levels. The reason for abuse is mainly curiosity (30 per cent), and to forget about problems (20 per cent) (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Abusers of tranquilizers are older than abusers of other drugs, with abuse reported increasing with age. Among those aged 30-50 years of age, over 40-50 per cent reported ever abusing it, while less than 20 per cent of the abusers are between the ages of 15-19. Abusers are reported to come from all socioeconomic levels. Among daily abusers teachers and the unemployed are overrepresented (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Most stimulants abusers are aged between 25-44 years, and come from lower socioeconomic levels. The main reasons for abuse include improving one's mood, studying and work. About 6 per cent of men reported abusing stimulants for sports (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Stimulants, cocaine, heroin, morphine and LSD are highly abused among the students population. About 12 per cent have tried cannabis and 1.6 per cent are current abusers; 2 per cent tried cocaine and 0.3 became abusers. About 20.3 per cent tried stimulants and 3.5 per cent became abusers. About 5.3 per cent of the students are tranquilizer abusers (FUNDASALVA 1992).
Regional Variations: No information reported by 31st December 1993.
Trends: No information reported by 31st December 1993.
Mode of intake: Abusers tend to abuse more than one drug (MEMORIA DE LABORES 1991).

Costs and Consequences of Abuse
Until 1990, there were 32 cases of AIDS detected, 2 associated with IDVU (PAHO 1990).

National Responses to Drug Abuse
National Strategy:
The Commission Antinarcotrafficking (COAN) is responsible for coordinating efforts to reduce supply and demand for drugs. Its mandate is however, limited since the Ministry of Education, among other important key players, are not part of the commission (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Legislation is used to control and prevent drug abuse. In 1991, a law regulating activities related to drugs (Ley Reguladora de las Actividades Relativas a las Drogas) was approved (FUNDASALVA 1991).
Organizations specialized in supply control direct their efforts to detect cultivation, processing, distribution and transportation networks. They have the authority to apprehend criminals and seize shipments. Realizing that the control of supply has limitations, the Antidrug Foundation of El Salvador (FUNDASALVA) is used to enlist concerned Salvadorans to strengthen the efforts to combat drug abuse. The foundation develops prevention programmes to change attitudes relating to drug abuse. It also lobbies for the adoption of laws and governmental policies to prevent and control drug abuse (MEMORIA DE LABORES 1991).

Actions Taken to Implement International Drug Control Treaties**
Treaty adherence
: El Salvador is party to the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Demand Reduction Activities
Primary Prevention:
FUNDASALVA programmes target current and potential abusers in the educational and business sectors as well as in the community. It designs and implements programmes for the entire educational system as well as for the corporate and manufacturing sectors. At the community level it focusses especially on impoverished neighbourhoods. In general, it offers a model of a healthy life style and positive self esteem. Target populations are encouraged to become responsible for their own well being and to face all problems, including drug abuse. Its rehabilitation programme aims to reintegrate drug abusers into their family, workplace and community (MEMORIA DE LABORES 1991).
FUNDASALVA conducts an interesting development programme which aims to maintain a reliable system of information on drug abuse and prevention, as well as to inform and educate the population and governmental leaders about drug abuse (MEMORIA DE LABORES 1991).
Treatment and Rehabilitation: FUNDASALVA provided services to 309,030 people by June 1992. In 1990, 4,820 people benefitted from their drug rehabilitation programmes. In 1991, this figure increased to 10465 people. During the first half of 1992, the figure was 4,967 people (MEMORIS DE LABORES 1991).

Supply Reduction Activities
Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences:
In 1992, 226 persons were arrested for traffic or possession of illicit drugs (CICAD 1993b).
Seizures: In the 6 month period between October and March 1993, 3,000kg of cocaine were seized (MEMORIS DE LABORES 1991).
In 1990, 85.000 kg of cannabis herb and 14.000 kg of cocaine (base and salts) was seized (Other 1990).
Supply Source of Drugs: There is considerable cannabis production along the Guatemalan border. El Salvador is reported not only a drug producer, but a bridge for trafficking as well (MEMORIS DE LABORES 1991).

References and Notes

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

U.N. 1988 Replies to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire for the year 1988. 

CICAD 1993. Drug Surveillance in Central America, Panama and Dominican Republic. Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse. CICAD/OAS/PAHO, 1993).

CICAD 1993b. First Report of the Inter-American Data Bank to the CICAD.

FUNDASALVA 1991. Conocimentos, Actitudes, y Practicas sobre Drogaa y Drogadiccion en Poblacion General Entre 15 y 54 Aסos del Area Metropolitana de San Salvador. Comunicaciones Cientificas de la Fundacion Antidrogas de El Salvador, FUNDASALVA. vol.1, San Salvador, El Salvador, 1991.

FUNDASALVA 1992. Conocimentos, Actitudes, y Practicas sobre Drogaa y Drogadiccion en Poblacion General Entre 15 y 54 Aסos del Area Metropolitana de San Salvador. Los Estudiantes Metropolitanos de San Salvador. Comunicaciones Cientificas de la Fundacion Antidrogas de El Salvador, FUNDASALVA. vol.1-A, San Salvador, El Salvador, 1992.

Memoria De Labores 1991. FUNDASALVA Fundacion Antidrogas de el Salvador. Memoria de Labores. San Salvador, El Salvador. 1991.

Other 1990. Obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by the Government or from other official sources for the year 1990.

PAHO 1990 Epidemiologic Report on the Use and Abuse of Psychoactive Substances in 16 Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Bulletin of the Pan American Health Organization, Special Report, vol.24, no.1, 1990.