Teenage drug use has doubled in Mexico in five years, but among teenage girls it has soared 205%.
The number of youths aged 12 to 17 that have used illegal drugs increased from just under 3% in 2011 to just over 6% last year.
Marijuana is Mexico’s most popular drug, while heroin use is described as minimal despite the fact that Mexico is Latin America’s biggest producer and the world’s third biggest, meaning authorities need to keep the drug in check, said Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, head of the National Commission Against Addictions (Conadic).
The figures were revealed during a conference on preventing drug abuse at which Health Secretary José Narro Robles said the consumption of illegal drugs and alcohol among minors, particularly young teenage girls, represents a red alert for authorities.
“Mexico has a challenge, a risk, a problem; a problem that can grow, and is growing” and fighting it requires the joint effort of government and society.
He also stated that over half a million Mexicans require specialized help to deal with their addictions but that help is not available to all, explaining that the 370 addiction centers and 117 youth integration centers operated by Conadic are not enough. “We need more services,” he asserted.
Narro said a pilot drug use prevention campaign for secondary school students is about to start in 13 states.
Its goal is to completely avoid or at least delay the use of drugs among students and stop them from going from the experimental stage to abuse and dependence.
As with heroin, cocaine and tobacco use have remained stable during the last five years, but alcohol is another story.
Mondragón said alcohol use, associated with unwanted pregnancies, car accidents and violence, has risen from 4.3% to 8.3% among minors in five years.