Prevalence and correlates of drug use disorders in Mexico

María Elena Medina-Mora, Guilherme Borges, Clara Fleiz, Corina Benjet, Estela Rojas, Joaquín Zambrano, Jorge Villatoro, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective. To describe the prevalence of drug use disorders, the correlates of drug use, and the utilization of specialized treatment services for drug users among the Mexican urban population 18-65 years old. Methods. The data were collected in 2001 and 2002 in the Mexican National Comorbidity Survey. The sample design was stratified probabilistically for six geographical areas of the country in a multistage process for census count areas, city blocks, groups of households, and individuals. The data were weighted, taking into account the probability of selection and the response rate. The information was collected using a computerized version of the World Mental Health Survey edition of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The weighted response rate for individuals was 76.6%. Results. Overall, 2.3% of the population reported any illicit use of drugs in the preceding 12 months; marijuana and cocaine were the substances most often used. Low levels of education were significantly associated with use, abuse, and dependence. Use of any drug was significantly more common among those who were in the youngest age group (18-29 years), were male, or were living in the Northwest region of the country. Overall, 1.4% had a lifetime history of drug abuse or dependence, with this being much more common for men (2.9%) than for women (0.2%). The 12-month prevalence of drug abuse or dependence was 0.4% overall (0.9% for men, and 0.0% for women). The rate of treatment during the preceding 12 months for those with the 12-month criteria for abuse or dependence was 17.1%; 14.8% were seen in specialized treatment centers; 2.8% reported having attended self-help groups. Conclusions. A noticeable number of Mexicans have a drug use disorder, but demand for treatment is limited, in part due to stigma. Our results indicate that there is an urgent need to organize the specialized services for persons with a substance abuse disorder according to the prevalence of dependence on different substances and the variation in prevalence in the different regions of the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalRevista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior, addictive
  • Health services needs and demand
  • Mental health services
  • Mexico
  • Substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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