This theoretical essay aims to contribute to the debate on care for drug users in Brazil. Thus, it problematizes the prohibitionist and segregating approach historically offered to this population and proposes discussion on drug use from the perspective of health and the social / legal sciences. In addition, it analyzes the itinerary of drug users, who end up occupying “permanently” and cyclically public spaces that corroborate the worsening of their life and illness trajectory, causing a direct burden on themselves and their families, enhancing segregation and redesigning asylums, prisons and streets. Some sociological and anthropological contributions by Erving Goffman are revisited, which offer interpretation keys for understanding the stigmas that permeate drug users, especially after their inclusion in total institutions. The proposed reflections underscore the need to consolidate harm reduction strategies as an integral and ethical care tool for this clientele.
drug users; prisons; psychiatric hospitals; street population