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Drug Addiction and Treatment in Macedonia

Macedonia lies almost directly in the path of one of the major heroin trafficking paths in the world - from Afganistan through Turkey and Bulgaria on its way to Europe. It's estimated that 80 tons of heroin travels this route every year.

Most of the drugs pass through Romania or Serbia but some are trafficked through Macedonia. Poorly financed, poorly managed, underequipped police, border patrol and customs control make the Balkan route appealing to international drug traffickers. From Macedonia, heroin moves on to Serbia for distribution to other Balkan states, or to Albania for distribution to Italy and further into the rest of Europe.

Some South American cocaine is also trafficked into Macedonia on its way to Europe, but the major channels for cocaine are through Spain and the Netherlands.

Most Drug Shipments Pass Through Macedonia Intact

Fortunately for Macedonians, it is thought that most of drugs pass through with little being distributed and consumed within its boundaries. Still, the primary - almost ONLY - class of drug sending people to drug rehabilitation centers is opiates. In 2005, nearly 99% of treatment admissions were from opiates, with the one percent remaining needing addiction treatment for cannabis (marijuana). It makes sense that some Macedonians may get addicted to cannabis, as neighboring Albania is a producer of cannabis.

Traveling eastward on these same channels are precursor chemicals, either for the manufacturing of synthetic drugs or the processing of heroin. On Macedonia's east side, Bulgaria is recognized as a producer of illicit drugs, particularly amphetamine-type stimulants. Amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA (Ecstasy) are major internationally-trafficked drugs of this class.

Treatment Largely Consists of Medical Replacement of Opiates

In 2005, only 902 Macedonians entered drug recovery programs. At the same time, it was estimated that there were 5,500 heroin users in the country.

The main method of drug addiction treatment for opiate addiction uses methadone to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to relieve the addicted person from the need to lead a criminal lifestyle. Unfortunately, when a person uses methadone, they do not learn to live a drug-free lifestyle and they can't re-discover the feeling of being completely free of any drugs in their bodies. Complete drug recovery is best when the person leaves the rehab center clean and sober and having the skills to create a drug-free future.

Alcohol Consumption and Alcoholism Experience Growth in Macedonia

Nationally, drinking alcohol is associated with celebrations such as birthdays and dinner parties and low-alcohol content is the drink of choice. But in the last few years, the government of Macedonia has become concerned about the growth in numbers of those who can be classed as having an addiction to alcohol or being fully alcoholic. Recent newspaper reports stated that 250,000 people in Macedonia suffer from an ongoing alcohol addiction, and that 60,000 can be categorized as alcoholics. Some people laid some blame on festivals at which large quantities of alcohol are consumed, mostly low-alcohol-content beverages such as beer and wine.

Still the country's government was concerned enough to pass new laws regulating alcohol sale. Off-trade (for consumption off-site) alcohol cannot be purchased after 7 PM and there are new regulations governing businesses that sell alcohol.

Narconon Arrives to Help Turn Things Around

Now there is a Narconon Macedonia located in Skojpe. The help provided by this Narconon takes two forms: drug and alcohol rehabilitation and drug prevention through education.

The Director of this new Narconon once worked for the police and so understands that many people going through traditional treatment have a hard time staying clean and sober afterwards. Once he found Narconon, he got himself and one of his new staff trained to operate a drug rehabilitation center using this effective drug rehab technology.

He has also been bringing the message of real drug recovery to many people in his area through lectures or even national television interviews. The day after one television interview, Macedonia's largest newspaper ran a front-page article about the right way to help a person recover from addiction: without medical drugs like methadone! As there is only one drug treatment program in Macedonia that uses no drugs - Narconon - this was great support for this young center.

Narconon Drug Information Department


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