Historical Trends in the Production and Consumption of Illicit Drugs in Mexico: Implications for the Prevention of Blood Borne Infections

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093, USA.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Impact Factor: 3.42). 10/2005; 79(3):281-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2005.02.003
Source: PubMed


Mexico has cultivated opium poppy since before the 1900's and has been an important transit route for South American cocaine for decades. However, only recently has drug use, particularly injection drug use, been documented as an important problem. Heroin is the most common drug used by Mexican injection drug users (IDUs). Increased cultivation of opium poppy in some Mexican states, lower prices for black tar heroin and increased security at U.S.-Mexican border crossings may be contributing factors to heroin use, especially in border cities. Risky practices among IDUs, including needle sharing and shooting gallery attendance are common, whereas perceived risk for acquiring blood borne infections is low. Although reported AIDS cases attributed to IDU in Mexico have been low, data from sentinel populations, such as pregnant women in the Mexican-U.S. border city of Tijuana, suggest an increase in HIV prevalence associated with drug use. Given widespread risk behaviors and rising numbers of blood borne infections among IDUs in Mexican-U.S. border cities, there is an urgent need for increased disease surveillance and culturally appropriate interventions to prevent potential epidemics of blood borne infections. We review available literature on the history of opium production in Mexico, recent trends in drug use and its implications, and the Mexican response, with special emphasis on the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.

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    • "In Ciudad Juarez, heroin is the primary substance motivating treatment seeking (Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría, 2011). Less information is available on the quality or accessibility of methadone or other medication-assisted treatment services in Ciudad Juárez, yet abundant media reports have highlighted incidents of violence within residential centers (Lacey, 2009) and only one public methadone clinic was operating during the study period (Bucardo et al., 2005). "
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    • "Heroin in this region is usually in the form of black tar, which is typically injected. On the contrary, white/brown powder, which is more prevalent in other regions , is more easily used through smoking and snorting (Bucardo et al., 2005). Methamphetamine has become a major drug of abuse in Tijuana (Brouwer et al., 2006; Case et al., 2008) and is closely associated with unprotected sex and increased risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (Drumright et al., 2006). "
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    • " for infectious dis - eases ( Sirotin et al . 2010 ) . Drug abuse , including injection drug use , has increased in Tijuana in recent years ( Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica 2008 ) in part due to its location on a major U . S . - bound drug trafficking route . Mexican black tar heroin and crystal methamphetamine dominate the local drug trade ( Bucardo et al . 2005 ) . Although personal drug possession has been nationally decriminalized and harm reduction services are available in Tijuana , repressive policing practices and discrimination frequently impinge on injectors ' abilities to adopt safer behav - iors ( Pollini et al . 2011 ; Volkmann et al . 2011 ) ."
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