By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter

BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – Brazil is the world’s second largest consumer of cocaine and crack, behind only the United States, and accounting for twenty percent of the worldwide market for cocaine and its derivatives, according to study released Wednesday.

Brazil 2nd Only to US in Cocaine, Crack U
Cocaine and rocks of crack seized in the operation seized by police in Rio de Janeiro in April are seen above. Brazil is second only to the United States in the use of cocaine and its derivatives, a survey released Wednesday showed, photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.

Altogether, more than six million Brazilians have tried cocaine or its derivatives at any point during their life, research by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa de Políticas Públicas do Álcool e Outras Drogas (National Institute for Public Policy Research on Alcohol and Other Drugs, INPAD) at the Federal University of São Paulo showed.

Of this group, two million have at some point used crack, oxi or merla – two other highly destructive derivatives of cocaine, usually cut with gasoline or other household solvents – while one million had used at least one of these three drugs during the past year.

The research also showed that in the past twelve months to between January and March 2012, which is when the interviews took place, 2.6 million adults and 244,000 young Brazilians consumed cocaine in some form.

Of these, 78 percent sniffed powdered cocaine, five percent smoked derivatives, and seventeen percent used the drug in both these ways. Some 27 percent of these used daily or more than twice a week and fourteen percent said that at some point they had used the drug intravenously.

The research offers a striking insight into the evolution of Brazil’s role in the worldwide drug trade. While historically, the country has been used as a transit route for drugs traveling from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru to the U.S. or Europe, today, Brazil is often the final destination. Up to sixty percent of the drugs produced in Bolivia today ends up in Brazil, the survey shows.

Researchers, led by psychiatrist Ronaldo Laranjeira, told Globo that although it is impossible to say for sure, as other international drug-use rankings usually combine information on crack and cocaine, they believe that Brazil is the largest consumer of crack in the world today.

“No other country has one million crack users today,” Laranjeira told Globo. According to his data, one in every hundred adults Brazilians smoked crack in the past year.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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