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Salud mental

versão impressa ISSN 0185-3325


ORTIZ CASTRO, Arturo; DOMINGUEZ GARCIA, Mario J.; PALOMARES CALDERON, Gabriela  e  MEDINA-MORA, María Elena. Activo distribution and paraphernalia among “street children”. Salud Ment [online]. 2017, vol.40, n.4, pp.165-170. ISSN 0185-3325.


The use of solvent inhalants has been documented in Mexico since the 1970s. Nevertheless, very little is known about the distribution and use dynamics among “street children”. Few have ventured to study this issue because of the difficulties involved in working with marginalized, relatively inaccessible populations.


To analyze the distribution and consumption dynamics of activo, as it is known among street children in downtown Mexico City, and to document the paraphernalia and argot associated with these practices.


This is a qualitative, descriptive, and interpretative study guided by the “Meeting Place” approach used by Hughes (1977), which has been adapted to Mexican population by Ortiz (1979). We also used ethnographic observation techniques and a social and immersion mapping of street spaces that allowed us to contact and relate to both informants and users.


We identified activo distributors and storage areas; user groups were made up of men and women in a 7-3 ratio; physical and psycho-social characteristics of sellers and users, and some street argot and paraphernalia that allowed us to understand the dynamics of distribution and consumption.

Discussion and conclusion

The activo market is both captive and hidden; it is detrimental to the physical and mental health of street children, and is fostered by social exclusion and the lack of legislation.

Palavras-chave : Street children; drugs; inhalants; solvents; distribution; Mexico City.

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