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Chile Drug Addiction

Chile is that long, slender thread of a country on the Pacific side of South America. It stretches from the vast deserts of northern Chile to the broad ice fields of the southern tip of the continent.

Just like every other country in South America, Chile battles drug trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. While most of the drug cultivation and manufacturing takes place across the borders in Bolivia or Peru or up the coast a little ways in Colombia, Chile has higher substance abuse figures than most of these other countries.

Chileans Using More Opioids, Marijuana and Cocaine Products

There's not much heroin in Chile, so most of the opioids abused in this country are prescription drugs. While the number of opioid abusers is low (57,000 people), it represents an increasing trend.

After severe increases in cocaine abuse statistics in the 1990s, abuse figures fell through the early part of the next decade. Still, an estimated 170,000 people were abusing cocaine by 2006. This number has been increasing again in the last few years among adults (15-64), with a 40 percent increase in cocaine use seen between 2006 and 2008.

Students also have a tendency to abuse the highly toxic and addictive coca paste, with about 3 percent of all students admitting they were using this drug.

Marijuana a Favorite Drug of Abuse for Many Chileans

In the last few years, hot debates have been waged over the best law enforcement stance on marijuana. While some people have favored decriminalization, others supported the move in 2008 to classify marijuana as a dangerous drug.

The national drug control agency of Chile justified this move by stating that 70 percent of people who entered treatment for drug addiction had started their drug use with marijuana. The director of that agency also reported that one third of the 7,000 people treated for drug addiction each year come in for marijuana abuse. Of those who abuse cannabis, 21 percent in Chile are diagnosed as being dependent on the drug, making it a highly problematic drug.

In all, 7 percent of Chileans report having used the drug in 2006, an increase over earlier years. Of South American countries, Chile has the second-highest cannabis usage figure, following Argentina.

Regarding students, Chile rates even higher on the marijuana abuse scale. Nearly 16 percent of students reported abusing the drug, the most of any South American country and nearly twice the number in Colombia. And of those students, 60 percent do not think that using marijuana frequently is dangerous.

Chile Struggles to Conquer Addiction Problems

Both government and non-government agencies do battle against the country's addiction problems. But as noted above, only 7,000 people are treated each year for addiction, out of a total population of more than 16 million.

Luis Plaza, the mayor of Cerro Navia proposed his own solution to the problem of drug traffickers. During a town hall meeting, he offered, "We are preparing the boats to throw drug dealers into the sea; we are going to put a stone around their neck and we will feed the fish."

While this offers one answer, a better solution is to teach people how to lead drug-free lives. But this solution must also include helping each addicted person recover their own integrity and feeling of self worth - qualities that are very often destroyed when one will do anything to acquire addictive substances.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program offers those addicted to alcohol, cannabis products or any other drug a chance to proceed through a drug treatment program at their own pace, rebuilding that destroyed life at their own pace. As part of this program, those in recovery often address the damage they have done to their relationships with family and friends. With the opportunity to face and deal with the problems that accompanied one's addiction, it is much easier to create an enjoyable, drug-free life to return to after graduation from a Narconon drug treatment facility.





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