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Costa Rica Drug Addiction Scene

Costa Rica is graced with beautiful green forests, lovely waterfalls and lush landscapes. For many years, tourism has brought many people to this small country located just north of Panama and just south of Nicaragua. Now this location is bringing a different - and unwelcome - type of visitor to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is located midway between Colombia's cocaine production facilities and Mexico's drug trafficking conduits into the United States. As such, it has long seen the transport of cocaine supplies through the country. In the last two years, the amount of cocaine being transported has greatly increased. But not only that: drug cartels have begun to warehouse drugs in the country, awaiting pickup. As the Security Minister of the country stated, "Colombians come and leave the drugs and Mexicans come and pick them up."

Instead of being a paradise for honeymooners and vacations, one Costa Rican legislator said that his country was becoming a paradise for drug traffickers and money launderers.

More Drugs in Transit, More Kilograms Seized

As more cocaine is run through Costa Rica, the statistics on cocaine seizures skyrocket. In 2002, less than 3,000 kg of cocaine were seized in the country or offshore. By 2007, this figure had risen to 32,000 kg in this year alone. Between 2006 and 2009, more than 92 tons of cocaine were seized.

Costa Rica has 1200 miles of mostly unguarded coastline and little in the way of radar capability. An international study estimated that 80 percent of the drugs produced in South American pass through Central America.

The Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels from Mexico are associated with most of these seizures The Sinaloa cartel even established a ring of fisherman with boats who would help them move their wares.

The seizures take place in warehouses and private homes, from fishing and go-fast boats, and other locations. For example, nearly 400 kg of cocaine was found when a helicopter crashed into a mountain. And twenty frozen sharks were sent from Costa Rica to the Yucatan with nearly 900 kg of cocaine stuffed inside. The company that shipped the sharks was found to have extensive property holdings, one of which had tunnels and underground vaults three meters deep that were being used to warehouse drugs.

Drug Consumption and Addiction Rises in Costa Rica

With more drugs warehoused in the country, Costa Rica's own drug consumption increases as does crime and violence. Thirty-four percent of those incarcerated in Costa Rica prisons reported that they were on drugs when they committed the crime for which they were jailed. Another 23 percent were committing the crime so they could get more drugs, and 34 percent of those jailed were there for some aspect of drug trafficking.

In 2008, a report from the Ministry of Justice stated that more than 100,000 people had been arrested for possession of or consumption of crack cocaine in eight months. The majority of those arrested were men who also committed robberies and assaults to support their addictions.

Treatment Facilities in Costa Rica are Inadequate to Save Those who are Addicted

In Costa Rica, cocaine addiction sends more people into treatment than any other drug. In 2007, 62 percent of those entering drug treatment facilities were there for problems with cocaine. In second place was cannabis with 31 percent of those in substance abuse treatment. Other drugs fall far behind. In all, only 15,000 people found drug addiction treatment. Authorities complained that there were not nearly enough rehab centers in the country to deal with the problem.

Alcoholism is a problem that affects hundreds of thousands more. According to the national alcoholism and drug dependency agency IAFA, some 620,000 Costa Ricans struggle with alcohol abuse. Fully a quarter of a million can be termed "alcoholics."

A New Kind of Drug Recovery Program Arrives to Give Hope

Into a grim scene of inadequate drug rehab facilities arrived the new Narconon Heredia in December of 2009. The new Narconon offers a long-term residential drug and alcohol treatment program that has forty years of success behind it.

Treating both alcoholism and drug addiction, the Narconon addiction treatment center first helps each person withdraw from the drug or liquor that caused them to become addicted. The withdrawal step uses no drugs, but rather employs nutritional supplements and intensive help from the Narconon staff to help a person relax and get through any withdrawal symptoms comfortably.

After that, each person at this unique drug rehabilitation center can look forward to rebuilding a life that was damaged or destroyed by their addiction. When they have recovered their integrity and have learned the life skills that enable them to make sound, drug-free decisions in the future, they are ready to leave substance abuse treatment and go home to live a sober, productive life. Seven out of ten Narconon graduates successfully stay clean and sober after they go home. And that gives hope of drug recovery to the addicts of Costa Rica.

Narconon Drug Information Department
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