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Revista Cubana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1561-3127Print version ISSN 0864-3466


CASTANO PEREZ, Guillermo Alonso  and  CALDERON VALLEJO, Gustavo Adolfo. Heroin consumption in Colombia-associated practice and incidence in the public health care. Rev. cub. salud pública [online]. 2010, vol.36, n.4, pp.311-322. ISSN 1561-3127.

Introduction Heroin addiction represents a threat to the public health in Colombia because, among other reasons, the heroin users are purchasing the drug at lower prices. Objectives To characterize the heroin consumption in Medellín and its metropolitan areas. Methods Qualitative research study. Information collected from July to September, 2008. The participants were accessed through the drug addiction treatment centers and the "snowball" technique. The population was finally made up of 42 sustained heroin users, who were administered a face-to-face structured interview that asked about type of heroin used, routes of administration, frequency, implements, practices, accompanying rituals, sexual relations and use of protection, suicidal ideas and gestures. Results Heroin users were predominantly single males aged 18-23 years, having no children and unfinished university studies. They belonged to middle socioeconomic stratum, had a history of use of psychoactive substances, which prompted the use of drugs at early ages. The main route of administration was intranasal, although heroin injection and smoking were also present. The drug users shared syringes and other implements; they had unprotected sexual intercourse under the effects of drug and committed crimes to afford heroin. Conclusions Heroin use is emerging reality in Colombia and its metropolitan area, and represents a significant threat to public health, safety and conviviality. It is required to conduct specific prevalence and incidence studies of this substance in order to take immediate intervention actions.

Keywords : Heroin; Medellin; Colombia; public health.

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