Drug Use Surveys in Latin America and the Caribbean [LAC] Countries

Implementing Organization
Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission [ES-CICAD]

The main of this program is to update existing drug-use data to inform policy and programs. The program consists of generating updated and comparable information on drug use, demand, and supply indicators, based on the application of surveys using the CICAD standardized methodology (known by its Spanish language acronym SIDUC), among the general population between 12 and 65 years of age, high school students, university students, prisoners, and university students in participating countries in Latin American and Caribbean with out-of-date data. This will make it possible to prepare hemispheric reports on the primary drug indicators in the Americas region. 


The nature and types of substances that are being produced, trafficked, and used in the LAC region has been slowly changing over time. In the last three to four years, reports from national drug information networks, early warning systems, and other sources have indicated increased seizures of synthetic drugs and other emerging substances, along with sporadic reports of overdose incidents or deaths related to these substances. Unfortunately, in many LAC countries, epidemiological data on drug use prevalence and incidence has not been updated for many years. There are some countries with data that is 10 years old and out of date for policy making or planning programs and interventions. Given outdated data, and the emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in LAC countries, a need exists to carry out epidemiological studies and rapid situation assessments to update available data and to determine current drug use patterns. The last major publication done by CICAD on drug use in the Americas was in 2019. The report can be found in the link below. CICAD also carries out calls for updated data from member states annually. Most countries are unable to provide updated use data because they lack the resources to carry out drug use surveys. To adequately address the problems associated with the use of illegal drugs, including synthetic drugs and NPS, it is important to understand patterns of use as well as trends in the general population and its specific segments of the population like secondary school students. 

Report on Drug Use in the Americas 2019 

Accomplishments to Date
  1. Developed a set of standardized drug epidemiology protocols (known as SIDUC) that have been widely accepted and applied in LAC countries. Some of these protocols have recently been updated to include new substances, such as synthetic drugs, as well as contemporary concepts. 
  2. Trained national drug observatory personnel in most LAC member states on the application of methodology for conducting national drug surveys and school surveys. 
  3. Published three reports on Drug Use in the Americas 2011, 2015, and 2019 that analyze drug use data in the Western Hemisphere and feature information on the trends, challenges, and emerging issues of interest for policymakers and the general public.
Project Activities
  1. Update remaining SIDUC survey protocols to incorporate new substances such as synthetic drugs as well as contemporary concepts. 
  2. Acquire survey software for scripting and programming of SIDUC surveys into the system.  
  3. Train national drug observatory personnel on the SIDUC methodology for the implementation of national drug surveys. 
  4. Implement surveys in member states depending on data needs.  
  5. Train local survey teams on data collection and management and on developing national drug survey databases and preparing reports of the main findings. 
Global Level Outcomes
  • Updated and comparable data on drug use prevalence (including synthetic drugs) and related issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
  • Increased information and better understanding of regional drug use patterns. 
  • Updated trends in drug use. 
  • Increased availability of evidence to inform the development of regional drug strategies and for drug abuse prevention and drug treatment programs. 
National Level Outcomes
  • Increased availability of up-to-date national data on the prevalence of drug use. 
  • Increased availability and use of evidence by practitioners in drug abuse prevention and drug treatment programs. 
  • Increased availability of evidence to inform the development of national drug strategies. 

Current State Participants

All Latin America and the Caribbean member states of the Organization of American States 


• Marya Hynes, Chief, Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID) • MHynes [at] oas [dot] org (MHynes[at]oas[dot]org) / OID_CICAD [at] oas [dot] org (OID_CICAD[at]oas[dot]org)https://www.oas.org/ext/en/main/oas/our-structure/gs/sms/cicad/interame…