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OAS Presents the “Report on Drug Use in the Americas, 2015”

  April 29, 2015

The Organization of American States (OAS) through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) today presented the "Report on Drug Use in the Americas, 2015," which contains an exhaustive analysis of drug use in OAS member states and offers a hemispheric and subregional outlook with respect to the consumption of psychoactive substances in recent years.

The report, created by CICAD’s Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID), is based on information provided directly by member states, with information updated to the end of 2014, and which comes mainly from three sources: national studies of secondary school students, the general population and university students. The presentation of the report took place on the first day of the 57th Regular Session of CICAD, taking place in Washington, DC starting today and concluding on Friday, April 30.

Among its findings, the report highlights the high level of drug use among adolescents in the Americas, combined with a very low perception of risk regarding the occasional use of these substances. For example, in 23 of the 29 countries with available data for secondary school students (usually teenagers between 13 and 17 years old), 20% or more of students reported having consumed alcoholic beverages in the month preceding the study, and, in 14 of these countries, use during the past month exceeds 30% of the population. In the case of marijuana, there were four countries in which 50% or more of the students reported that they had easy access to the substance. These same countries also had the highest prevalence of marijuana use. At the same time, in countries where the prevalence of use is below 5%, the percentage of students who find it easy to get marijuana is less than 30%, notes the report.

These data "raise questions about the development of public policies to prevent drug use among adolescents." The report shows that "high levels of consumption in countries are associated with a high perception of ease of access to drugs, which poses another challenge for drug supply control policies."

Another issue highlighted in the report is that "although only a few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reported heroin use in their populations, CICAD considers it to be an emerging problem that requires monitoring and a specific and comprehensive approach aimed at preventing its development in the future."

At the same time, the data collected by the report presented an increase in new psychoactive substances (NPS), which "pose a challenge to those responsible for designing policies, not only in terms of demand reduction, but also related to supply control, since the emergence of the NPS has modified the traditional patterns of illicit drug production, making it possible for drugs to be synthesized in any country."

Overall, the report concludes that the data collected confirms "the need for well-designed public policies that are properly implemented with clear evaluation criteria" for which "relevant and updated qualitative and quantitative information is needed."

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, highlighted that the document produced by CICAD “confirms what was mentioned in the 2013 OAS Report on Drugs regarding the tremendous heterogeneity in drug use in our countries: while similarities exist in some cases, there are also large differences in others.” In addition, he said that “while the countries of the Hemisphere have made great progress in their efforts to generate and analyze data related to drugs, they still face many challenges. Some states need to develop and analyze information at the local or municipal level to establish initiatives based in the community that take into account local realities,” he said, while recalling the urgency of identifying the patterns of consumption among young people, “in order to confirm tendencies about the age of first use and the perception of risk outlined in the report.”

For his part, the Executive Secretary of CICAD, Paul Simons, said "This report will provide an extensive set of information and analysis that should support the efforts of member states along with the Executive Secretariat to craft the new Plan of Action for 2016-2020 to implement the second phase of the Hemispheric Drug Strategy 2010." Taking into account the findings of the report, he explained that one of the main concerns of the OAS "is the high levels of use of alcohol and other drugs among teenagers, a message that must reach families, communities and school systems.” In addition, Ambassador Simons noted that there is evidence of "the negative consequences of substance use at early ages.” Moreover, Simons said "there is also concern about the low perception of risk associated with drug use among teenagers, especially for marijuana."

Francisco Cumsille, head of CICAD‘s Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID), highlighted the alarming growth in the rates of consumption of illicit substances such as marijuana and cocaine in some countries, and warned that "today lesser known substances are emerging -such as opioids, psychotropic drugs used without prescription, and heroin- and other psychoactive substances that until a few years ago were not part of the large repertoire available in drug markets.”

The complete report is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-154/15