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About the Program

About the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program

The alcohol and substance abuse program provides leadership and technical cooperation to Member States on public health policies related to alcohol consumption and the use of psychoactive substances (illegal or used for non medical purposes).  Therefore, it generates and disseminates information on alcohol and drug consumption and related harms, evidence based policies and interventions, and monitors trends in consumption and related problems, with the goal of minimizing the negative health outcomes associated with their use.  Among the various psychoactive substances consumed in the region, alcohol is a leading risk factor for the burden of disease. 

The harmful consumption of alcohol is associated with a range of health and social consequences, including injuries, several forms of cancer, chronic liver disease, heart disease, alcohol dependence, and domestic violence.  Priority cross-cutting issues for the program include: gender, human rights, health promotion and services in primary health care.

On this site you can find many resources with information on the impact alcohol and substance abuse have on health in the Americas.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Facts

  • Alcohol consumption in the Americas is approximately 40% greater than the global average.
  • In 2000 alcohol was the most important risk to health in low and middle income countries in the Americas.  It was second in the developed countries of the Americas.  Illicit drugs ranked 8th among the 10 leading risk factors for the region.
  • Use of illicit drugs, especially by injection, are linked to HIV and other blood borne infections.
  • The average drinking pattern of adults in the majority of countries in the Americas is hazardous to health.
  • It is estimated that in the year 2002, alcohol led to the death of one person every two minutes in the Region.
  • Health services to deal with the range of substance use disorders are lacking.
  • Stigma and discrimination against drug users hinder their access to health services and treatment.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 May 2011 05:26

Alcohol and Substance Abuse News



Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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