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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X


CASTANO PEREZ, Guillermo Alonso  and  CALDERON VALLEJO, Gustavo Adolfo. Patterns of heroin use in a sample of consumers in Medellín - Colombia. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2012, vol.15, n.3, pp.504-522. ISSN 1415-790X.

INTRODUCTION: In Colombia, there are no specific studies on the prevalence of heroin use. This paper reviews the patterns of substance use in a consumer group in the city of Medellín and its metropolitan area, showing that consumption is becoming a threat to public health due to the particular forms of consumption, among which risk practices are included. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of heroin in the city of Medellín and its metropolitan area. METHODS: The study took a mixed approach using multiple-case study to cover each of the variables and categories proposed; 42 heroin users of treatment centers in the city of Medellín and its metropolitan area were accessed between July and September 2008, using the "snowball", technique. Information was collected by a structured, face to face interview, asking about the type of heroin consumed, routes of administration, frequency of consumption, equipment used, consumption practices and rituals that accompany these practices. Quantitative data were analyzed using the EPI-Info statistical package 2,000 and Atlas ti qualitative, version 5.5, for Windows. RESULTS: Consumers were predominantly male, single, aged between 18 and 23 years, childless and many had not completed college. Most respondents were in the middle socioeconomic stratum, had a family history of psychoactive substance use and had started heroin use between 15 and 17 years. There are special forms to name heroine, consumers, and rituals to consume the substance. The article gives details of the heroin consumed, the paraphernalia and associated practices. CONCLUSIONS: The use of heroin is an emerging reality in Colombia. Qualitative-quantitative studies are necessary to allow us to acknowledge and understand more about this phenomenon in order to decrease the impact on public health

Keywords : Heroin; Medellín; Colombia; Consumption patterns.

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