Drugs and health in the Brazilian press: an analysis of articles published in newspapers and magazines

This article analyzes information recently published by the Brazilian press on the use of psychoactive drugs and its implications on health. A sample of 502 newspaper and magazine articles published in 1998 was researched using content analysis. The drugs most frequently featured in the headlines were tobacco (18.1%), coca-derived drugs (9.2%), marijuana (9.2%), alcoholic beverages (8.6%), and anabolic steroids (7.4%). Solvents were featured in only one article, although they are the most commonly used drug in Brazil, second only to alcohol and tobacco. These data indicate an imbalance between the journalistic approach and the epidemiological profile of psychoactive drug consumption in Brazil. Dependence was the most frequent consequence mentioned in the articles (46%), followed by violence (9.2%), withdrawal syndrome (8.0%), and AIDS (6.8%). The focus of the articles varied according to the drug in question. While articles on marijuana focused on its therapeutic use and legalization, those on cocaine-related issues discussed both the damage caused by consumption as well as various interventions (treatment and repression).

Psychotropic Drugs; Drug Abuse; Communications Media; Newspapers

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