Use of licit and illicit substances among adolescents in Brazil - A national survey

Clarice S. Madruga, Ronaldo Laranjeira, Raul Caetano, Ilana Pinsky, Marcos Zaleski, Cleusa P. Ferri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective: We estimate the prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and illegal substance use in a national representative sample of adolescents. We also estimate how socio demographic characteristics, household environment and mental health are associated with substance misuse. Method: This is a cross-sectional study using data from the first Brazilian National Alcohol Survey, which gathered information on the use of psychoactive substances in 761 participants aged 14 to 19. years old. Weighted logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratios. Results: More than half of the adolescents interviewed were regular alcohol users and one out of ten were abusers and/or dependents. Older male adolescents living in urban areas were more likely to present alcohol related disorders and to smoke. Age had an inverse association with illegal substance use. Smokers and those using illegal substances were more likely to report domestic violence while those with alcohol abuse/dependence were more likely to have depression. Conclusions: The high prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and illicit substance consumption among Brazilian adolescents is staggering. Young males with mood disorders from urban areas are more at risk of developing alcohol disorders while illegal drug use is highly associated to household dysfunction in early life. Brazilian growing economy will possibly lead to increased levels of substance use among adolescents if new prevention measures are not implemented. The intensification of law enforcement strategies to reduce psychotropic substances access is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1175
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Brazil
  • Depression
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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