Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in the Americas

Mode of Intake of Drugs in Latin America

Intravenous drug abuse is fairly high among addicts, at about 60 per cent (CMO, 1991). Cocaine, however, is injected and sniffed. Synthetic narcotics are injected as well as ingested (U.N. 1988). Of the AIDS cases known in 1988, 11 were IVDU's (6.7 per cent), 6 were bisexual IVDU's (3.7 per cent), and one was a homosexual IVDU (0.6 per cent) (PAHO 1990).

            Opiates, amphetamines and benzodiazepines are mostly ingested; coca-leaf is chewed and cannabis is smoked. Multiple drug abuse is common (U.N. 1988).


The proportion of intravenous drug abusers among the drug dependent abusers in Bolivia is reported at about 0.01 per cent (CMO 1991).

            Opium and coca paste tend to be smoked. Cocaine is both smoked and sniffed. Heroin is sniffed. Synthetic Narcotic analgesics, hallucinogens and other sedatives are ingested and volatile solvents are inhaled (U.N. 1991).


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).


The most common mode of intake for most drugs in Chile is smoking. This also applies to cocaine, which may also be sniffed (U.N. 1991).

            Multiple drug use is common. For example, cocaine, cannabis, tobacco and alcohol are abused together (U.N., 1991).


There are no unusual patterns reported regarding mode of drug intake: cocaine is usually sniffed, heroin injected, "basuco" (coca paste) and cannabis smoked, hallucinogens, amphetamine-type and sedative-type drugs ingested. Multiple drug abuse is common (U.N. 1992).


Intravenous drug use is reported frequent in Ecuador (Pan American Health Organization 1990).


No unusual modes of intake are reported in Uruguay. Cocaine is sniffed, cannabis smoked, and amphetamines and sedatives are both injected and ingested (U.N. 1991).

            Multi-drug abuse is also reported, where in most cases drugs are taken in combination with alcohol (U.N. 1991).


Intravenous administration of drug is not common but an increase has been noted in recent years (PAHO 1990). Cocaine is mostly sniffed, although its injection is increasing and is believed to have produced a rise in the number of HIV infections among abusers (U.N. 1990).