Demand Reduction Past Projects: 

The Impact of Drug Abuse on 
Women and the Family



This project was designed to encourage research in OAS member states on the impact of drug abuse on women and the family, and to develop an action plan to address these problems.

CICAD and the Inter-American Children's Institute began this project in 1995 with two pilot training workshops for women, both of which dealt with drug abuse and treatment concerns and, in particular, with the issue of drug and alcohol abuse and its relationship to domestic violence against women.

In November 1996, CICAD and the Inter-American Institute on Children held a Core Group Consultation Meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on the impact of drug abuse on women and the family.  Professionals from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela identified the following issues for further research:

  • The role of substance abuse in situations of violence against women and child abuse

  • Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol and its effects on the mother, the fetus, and the newborn

  • The need for gender specific treatment and rehabilitation services, HIV/AIDS and drug abuse and programs for women in correctional facilities

Focal points were formed in a number of member states, which aim to develop action plans to work at the community level with at-risk female populations. 

CICAD supported national meetings, research initiatives and projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay, in order to raise awareness of the impact of drug abuse on women and the family. Other follow-up activities have taken place in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Ecuador.






Publications include educational materials and training manuals, a directory of institutions that work on drug abuse and women's issues, and approximately 30 abstracts of research articles written by Latin American and Caribbean professionals.


In 2001, CICAD provided financial support for the production and publication of the official proceedings of the meeting The Southern Cone Seminars on Women and Drugs and the Family and Drugs organized by Fundación Proyecto Cambio of Argentina and the Ibero-American Network of NGOs working in Drug-Dependence (RIOD), under the auspices of the Argentine Secretariat of Programming for the Prevention of Drug Addiction (SEDRONAR). 



Las siguientes son las publicaciones realizadas  en el marco del Proyecto Interamericano sobre el Impacto del Abuso de Drogas en la Mujer y la Familia:

  • Seminario del Nodo Sur: Mujer y Drogas, Familia y Drogas.
    Buenos Aires, 25 al 27 de mayo de 2000

  • Informe del Proceso 1994-1998  

  • Abuso de Drogas: Impacto en la Mujer y a la Familia

  • I Foro Nacional sobre la Mujer y las Drogas: informe de rectoría y ponencias

  • Memoria del Primer Congreso Argentino: impacto del abuso de drogas sobre la mujer y la familia

  • Manual regional de la educación preventiva participativa del uso indebido de drogas: versión boliviana del anexo mujer y drogas.


Selección de Artículos, Declaraciones, Investigaciones 
y Otros Documentos






CICAD has supported a number of activities under this project as summarized below:


In Argentina a National Forum on the Impact of Drug Abuse on Women and the Family was held in September 1997, with the participation of Argentine, Paraguayan and Uruguayan professionals.  A report of the Forum was published in 1998 by Proyecto Cambio, titled Memoria del 1er. Congreso Argentino: Impacto del abuso de la droga sobre la mujer y la familia ( First Argentine Conference: The Impact of Drugs in Women and Family).


In Bolivia, a National Forum on the Impact of Drug Abuse among Women and the Family was held in March 1997.  As a result of this meeting a training program in the detection of drug abuse from a gender perspective was implemented.  Workshops on preventive education for women were carried out and an article was published on Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse.  In October 1998 the Second National Forum was held during which the Bolivian version of the Regional Manual on Preventive Participatory Education for Women was first presented.  In addition, in November 1998 an Encounter for the Preventive Participative Education on Drug Abuse for Bolivian Women was held, with the cooperation of the Inter-American Children's Institute.


In Ecuador a series of workshops were held, in coordination with the Inter-American Comission of Women, on women, alcohol, and drugs aimed at adolescents and their parents.


In the Dominican Republic a panel on women, the family and drugs as well as research project on prostitution and alcohol consumption were carried out. With the collaboration of the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) and Casa Abierta, an Encounter on Participative Preventive Education on Drug Abuse Among Dominican Woman took place in September 1999. 


In Jamaica a national proposal was submitted to provide treatment services aimed especially at women and their children. 


In Paraguay a National Forum on the Impact of Drug Abuse on Women’s Health was held out in June 1997, with the participation of Paraguayan, Uruguayan, Venezuelan and Costa Rican professionals in the drug prevention and treatment field, which was followed by a publication titled Abuso de drogas: Impacto en la salud de la mujer y la familia ( Drug abuse: Impact on the Health of Women and the Family).  Following the Forum, a research project on women and pregnancy that further explored the relationship between alcohol and violence was carried out by the Institute of Research in Science and Health, Asunción, Paraguay.

In Uruguay the First National Forum on Women and Drugs was carried out in October 1997, with the participation of Uruguayan, Argentine and Paraguayan professionals.  The report of the event was published in October of 1997 titled I Foro nacional sobre la mujer y drogas: informe de relatoría y ponencias (First National Forum on Women and Drugs: Minutes and Lectures). This book comprises the papers presented by the speakers, the report of the meeting, its conclusions and recommendations.

In Venezuela a Seminar on Crime among Women in the Andean Region, where the criminalization of women for drug-related crimes was raised as a priority issue.  The article Invisible Women:  Women imprisoned for drug related crimes was presented by Rosa del Olmo of  Fundación José Félix Ribas.  A pilot study in Venezuela was also carried out for a project on Female Prevention Groups.






In Latin America and the Caribbean, prevention and treatment programs need to be tailored to women's needs and research needs to be conducted to measure drug use among women and its associated factors.  

In many countries, treatment for women is inadequate, due to women’s limited access to resources, such as childcare, transportation, or health insurance, making it more difficult for them to enter treatment. [1] This lack of perspective on women as group at risk contributes to the allocation of services primarily to men, and the continued under-representation of women in drug research. 

A woman’s capacity to deal with drug abuse and related problems impact the family in addition to other social consequences when she is confronted with substance abuse, or a substance-abusing partner or family member.  Difficult situations such as family disintegration, loss of employment and rejection by friends may decrease women’s ability to seek treatment and eventual rehabilitation.  The absence of one parental figure and a lack of parent-child dialogue may contribute to drug abuse among young people,

Traditionally there is a lack of knowledge regarding the health of women who use drugs.
Shortage of health care and human service professionals who are skilled in administering gender-oriented treatment methodologies are further obstacles.[3]

[1] United Nations Drug Control Program, Women and Drug Abuse, a United Nations Perspective, December 1, 1994

[2] World Health Organization Programme on Substance Abuse , Women and Drug Abuse: 1993 Country Assessment Report

[3] World Health Organization Programme on Substance Abuse, Women and Drug Abuse: 1993 Country Assessment Report