Measuring Illegal Drug Use in Mexico: Reflections on the National Addiction Surveys  and an Independent Survey
Beatriz Caiuby Labate y Pamela Ruiz Flores López


This paper analyzes the national surveys (ENA) that are the main policy instrument used to measure illegal drug consumption in Mexico. On different occasions, the government has used increased drug consumption rates to partially justify the "War on Drugs." The paper reviews the 2008 and 2011 surveys, provides individual analysis of each and compares them to each other, and with the First Survey of Illegal Drug Users in Mexico City, developed by CUPIHD. The authors highlight the methodological and conceptual flaws of the national surveys, such as: faults in the sample and methodology; definitions of the categories "use,"  "abuse," and "dependence"; and the relationship established between consumption and prevention. It concludes that the ENAs are not clear regarding whether they want to measure consumption or dependence, and also unclear on their objective. The survey results do not allow precise measurement of the phenomenon of illegal drug consumption in Mexico, which is of fundamental importance in creating and proposing effective public policies, thus moving beyond the stereotyped discourse of the user as a source of the problems associated with violence. It is hoped that this analysis contributes to the formulation of more appropriate surveys in the future.

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