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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2000 Feb;7(2):79-87.

[Consumption of licit and illicit drugs in Chile: results of the 1998 study and comparison with the 1994 and 1996 studies].

[Article in Spanish]

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Consejo Nacional para el Control de Estupefacientes, Santiago, Chile.


The principal results are presented here from the Third National Study of the Consumption of Drugs, which was carried out in Chile by the National Board for Narcotics Control between 1 September 1998 and 15 January 1999. The 1998 study used the same methodological design as the first and second studies, which were done in 1994 and 1996. The 1998 study expanded the sample to 31,665 individuals, who were representative of a population of 6,940,727 people from 12 to 64 years old, both sexes, and five socioeconomic levels and who were residents of urban areas in 62 commune administrative divisions of the 13 regions of the country. Results from the 1998 study are compared with those from 1996 and 1994. The 1998 study shows that 17.5% of Chileans have at some time in their life used one of the three illicit drugs most popular in the country: marijuana (16.8%), coca paste (2.3%), and cocaine hydrochloride (4.0%). The prevalence of use of any of the three drugs, mainly marijuana, during the preceding year was 5.3% and during the preceding month 2.2%. With respect to licit drugs, 28.4% of Chileans have at some time in their lives used antianxiety drugs, 84.4% of them have consumed alcohol, and 71.9% have used tobacco. Most of the people who once used illegal drugs have stopped doing so: 71.6% in the case of marijuana, 64.1% with coca paste, and 66.8% with cocaine hydrochloride. For legal drugs, the percentages were lower: 55.5% for anxiolytics, 16.0% for alcohol, and 34.5% for tobacco. The consumption of licit and illicit drugs was several times greater among men than among women, except for anxiolytics, whose use was three times greater among women. Drug use was more frequent among persons between 19 and 25 years old. Consumption of illegal drugs was more frequent at higher socioeconomic levels, and use of licit drugs was more common in the lower socioeconomic levels. The 50th percentile of the age of initiating drug use was 17 years for alcohol, 15 for tobacco, 30 for antianxiety agents, 17 for marijuana, 20 for coca paste, and 21 for cocaine hydrochloride. Comparing the results of the three studies shows that, after an increase in the use of licit drugs between 1994 and 1996, there was a stabilization in 1998. With illegal drugs there was a modest increase in consumption between 1996 and 1998, following a small reduction between 1994 and 1996.

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