BACKGROUND: In some countries, “Big Events” like crises and transitions have been followed by large increases in drug use, drug injection and HIV/AIDS. Argentina experienced an economic crisis and political transition in 2001/2002 that affected how people use their time. This paper studies how time use changes between years 2001 and 2004, subsequent to these events, were associated with drug consumption in poor neighborhoods of Greater Buenos Aires.
METHODS: In 2003-2004, 68 current injecting drug users (IDUs) and 235 young non-IDUs, aged 21-35, who lived in impoverished drug-impacted neighborhoods in Greater Buenos Aires, were asked about time use then and in 2001. Data on weekly hours spent working or looking for work, doing housework/childcare, consuming drugs, being with friends, and hanging out in the neighborhood, were studied in relation to time spent using drugs. Field observations and focus groups were also conducted.
RESULTS: After 2001, among both IDUs and non-IDUs, mean weekly time spent working declined significantly (especially among IDUs); time spent looking for work increased, and time spent with friends and hanging out in the neighborhood decreased. We found no increase in injecting or non-injecting drug consumption after 2001. Subjects most affected by the way the crises led to decreased work time and/or to increased time looking for work–and by the associated increase in time spent in one’s neighborhood–were most likely to increase their time using drugs.
CONCLUSIONS: Time use methods are useful to study changes in drug use and their relationships to every day life activities. In these previously-drug-impacted neighborhoods, the Argentinean crisis did not lead to an increase in drug use, which somewhat contradicts our initial expectations. Nevertheless, those for whom the crises led to decreased work time, increased time looking for work, and increased time spent in indoor or outdoor neighborhood environments, were likely to spend more time using drugs. These data suggest that young adults in traditionally less-impoverished neighborhoods may be more vulnerable to Big Events than those in previously drug-impacted impoverished neighborhoods. Since Big Events will continue to occur, research on the pathways that determine their sequelae is needed.
Changes in time-use and drug use by young adults in poor neighbourhoods of Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, after the political transitions of 2001-2002: Results of a survey
Harm Reduction Journal, 8, 2. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-8-2. PMCID: PMC3039540.