History of drug misuse in Mexico

Drug misuse in Mexico has a long and complex history, with roots dating back to the pre-Columbian era. The indigenous peoples of Mexico used a variety of psychoactive substances, including peyote, mushrooms, and tobacco, in religious and medicinal practices. According to research by anthropologists such as Peter T. Furst (1992), these substances were used in religious rituals and also to communicate with the spirit world.

During the colonial period, the Spanish brought their own forms of drug use to Mexico, including the use of alcohol and opium. However, it was not until the 20th century that drug misuse in Mexico began to become a significant social and public health problem.

In the early 1900s, Mexico was a major producer of opium and marijuana, and these drugs were widely available. However, it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that drug misuse began to escalate in Mexico. This was due in part to the increasing availability of drugs, as well as changes in social and cultural norms that led to a greater acceptance of drug use. According to a study by the Mexican government (SEDRONAR, 2019), the use of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs increased significantly during this time period, reflecting the changes in social norms and the availability of drugs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Mexico became a major transit point for drugs headed to the United States, and this led to a significant increase in drug-related violence and crime in the country. The government attempted to combat this problem by launching a series of anti-drug campaigns, but these efforts were largely ineffective. According to research by the Mexican government (SEDRONAR, 2019), drug-related violence increased during this time period, as organized criminal groups fought for control of the drug trade.

In recent years, the situation in Mexico has continued to be complex. The government has taken steps to address the problem of drug misuse, including increasing law enforcement efforts and implementing public health and harm reduction programs. However, these efforts have been hindered by ongoing drug-related violence and corruption in the country. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS, 2021), the Mexican government has been criticized for its heavy-handed approach to combating drug trafficking, which has led to human rights abuses and a high level of violence.

Media coverage of the drug problem in Mexico has been extensive, highlighting the human cost of the drug war, as well as the corruption and violence that is often associated with the drug trade. For example, the New York Times has reported on the brutal violence inflicted by drug cartels on communities throughout Mexico (Londoño, E., 2019). The Guardian has reported on the corruption and human rights abuses that have resulted from the Mexican government’s heavy-handed approach to combating drug trafficking (Guardian, 2020).

In summary, the history of drug misuse in Mexico is a long and complex one, with roots dating back to the pre-Columbian era. Over the centuries, the country has struggled with the problem of drug misuse, and despite efforts to address it, the situation remains complex and challenging.


Furst, P. T. (1992). Hallucinogens and Culture. San Francisco, CA: Chandler & Sharp Publishers.

SEDRONAR (2019). National Survey of Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use in Mexico. Mexico City: Secretariat of Health.

CRS (2021). Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Threat. Congressional Research Service.

Krauss, M. (2018). The War on Drugs and the Politics of Narcotics Control in Mexico. New York: Routledge.

Ríos, V. (2013). Drug War Capitalism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.