Home Institution

Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments


Contextual Information: Historically in Argentina, as well as globally, the politics regarding the use of “drugs” have been prohibitionist and treatment centers have implemented these politics with models of abstinence. More recently, the need for both the politics and the treatment to prioritize the rights and health of the drug uses has become more widely recognized in both social and political contexts, as much as among professionals in treatment centers. New laws have been passed proposing the implementation of harm reduction strategies in the treatment of addictions and problematic drug use. In the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires there are several distinct types of treatment centers that differ in both their practices and their ideologies. One of these treatment centers is the Center Xavier*. The Center Xavier is a center of low threshold requirement that offers outpatient treatment. This study analyzes the type treatment offered by the public health system through the Xavier Centre, to provide care for drug users; and the changes that these new policies aimed at addressing the problem of problematic drug use may have generated in this center and others. Methodology: The research objectives were met through 8 in-depth interviews with 9 total individuals. One investigator not associated with the Center Xavier was interviewed; the interviewees at the Xavier Center included: the head of the center (also a psychiatrist), five psychologists, a gynecologist, and the secretary. The results were coded into 7 categories for analysis. Results: The Xavier Center implements strategies from the perspective of harm reduction and the treatment realized there is based in psychoanalysis. In general their work is limited by the resources they have. In this particular center there have not been many changes in response to the new laws, in part because the center was already complying with these laws before they were approved. While there is a stronger movement away from the prohibitionist policies, these policies and the contradictions that they create, still remain and cause many problems.


Community Health | Health Services Research | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Substance Abuse and Addiction


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