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OAS and UN Publish New Study on Drug Use among Youth in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay

  March 10, 2010

The Organization of American States (OAS), through its Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), and the United Nations (UN), through its Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), today presented in Vienna a second joint study on drug consumption among student populations in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.

The complete report may be found here (in Spanish).

Following are some of the study’s conclusions:

• Marihuana is the most frequently used illegal drug among the population sample used. On average, almost 11 percent of students in the countries where the study was conducted have tried it at least once, varying between four percent in Peru and almost 23 percent in Chile. The most worrisome fact is the early age at which this substance is being consumed, given that 42 percent of consumers has experimented for the first time before the age of 15.

• Cocaine showed an average use of 2.2 percent, varying between 1.4 percent in Peru and 3.5 percent in Uruguay. Meanwhile, the use of cocaine paste in the last year showed an average of 1.4 percent, from 0.6 percent in Ecuador to 2.8 percent in Chile.

• While the exclusive use of marihuana is very significant in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the use of inhalers among students in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru also exists among a significant number of users.

• The low awareness of risk in the use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and marihuana is a very important fact in elaborating public policies of demand reduction.

• Also, the easy access to marihuana and other drugs used by the students is evidence of a deficiency in the control of the traffic of these substances that must motivate the design of new strategies to control supply.

• With respect to the scope of drug use (legal and illegal), alcohol is the most highly used drug in all of the countries included in the study. In general, almost seven of every ten students have consumed an alcoholic beverage at some point in life, though there are important differences between the countries, varying from 80 percent in Ecuador and Uruguay to 43 percent in Bolivia.

• With respect to tobacco, on average, one of every five students has used it in the last month, ranging from 12 percent in Bolivia to 32 percent in Chile.

“The conclusions of the report allow us to know what is happening with drug use among the student population and the factors associated with it, and this must be used by national authorities to shape their policies and more specifically to increase investment in the area of prevention,” said CICAD Executive Secretary James Mack.

The study—carried out within the framework of the project “Sub-regional System of Information and Research on Drugs” and presented in the setting of the Fifty-third Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in the Austrian capital—was conducted by professionals from the National Assembly on Drugs of Uruguay with the technical assistance of UNODC and CICAD. The study was conducted in 2007-2008 with a random sample of 170.000 students between the ages of 13 and 17 in the countries of the sub-regional system.

For more information please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-070/10