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Spain drug addiction and rehabilitation treatment

As more Spaniards learn to live free from alcohol and drugs and as more of those who are addicted go through drug recovery, then Spain receives back more honest citizens who can enjoy productive lives.

Nothing in Spain's long and rich history of exploration, culture and commerce ever prepared it for its current problems with illicit drugs. Before the 1980s, drug addiction of any kind was a minor problem, isolated mostly in young people and military personnel who had spent time in Africa. But the drug culture that spread across the United States in the 1970s also reached Spain. Between 1977 and 1982, the scene changed drastically. Cannabis seizures increased five-fold and cocaine seizures went up eight-fold. But heroin became the greatest threat.

Heroin Takes Center Stage in Spain

As cocaine and cannabis seizures multiplied, heroin seizures skyrocketed. Robberies, drug-related crimes and overdose deaths increased as well. While only 31 people died from heroin use in 1981, just two years later it was a hundred people and then 150 in 1984.

One reason for the increase in the heroin supply was the dismantling of the French Connection that had supplied heroin to Europe and U.S. for decades. When the heroin manufacturing labs were eliminated from Marseilles, France, in the early 1970s, new ones were established in other European countries, including Spain. And thus criminal groups became entrenched in heroin distribution throughout Spain.

Currently, heroin entering Spain originates in South and Southwest Asian countries such as Afghanistan and Myanmar. It is then smuggled through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and then across Europe to Germany, where part of the load is diverted to Spain. After this lengthy and indirect journey, an estimated 74,300 heroin users in Spain consume more than 4000 kg of heroin each year.

Cocaine and "Highway 10"

Today, the biggest drug threat to Spain is cocaine. Most of the cocaine coming into Europe from South America enters via Spain. Shipments leave Colombia or Venezuela and arrive in impoverished Western Africa countries with corrupt law enforcement agencies. Because the closest point between South America and Africa occurs at about 10 degrees latitude north, some law enforcement personnel refer to this trafficking route as "Highway 10."

From Africa to Spain, smugglers often use fishing boats or go-fast boats that can exploit Spain's long coastlines. The Spanish Navy makes frequent seizures on the high seas between Africa and Spain, finding cocaine loads of 800 to 1800 kg that were intended to keep Spanish citizens enslaved to this drug.

Of those in treatment for drug addiction, 45 percent are being treated for cocaine, more than any other drug. It is the most likely drug to send people to the emergency room as well, being involved in two-third of ER visits. About a third report cannabis use and less than a quarter report heroin use. On the other hand, alcohol is commonly abused by nearly all people abusing illicit drugs.

Spain has suffered from the highest cocaine prevalence rates in Europe for the last decade, even exceeding U.S. figures in recent years. But because cocaine addiction is a more recent problem than heroin addiction, fewer drug rehabilitation centers exist to treat it.

Spain Cannabis Highly Available to All Age Groups

Much of the cannabis found in Spain is in the form of cannabis resin. In 2008, nearly 700 tons of the resin was seized in Spain, the highest amount in Europe. Much of the cannabis resin enters Spain from its Mediterranean neighbor, Morocco and more is produced domestically as evidenced by the seizure of 25 tons of cannabis plants in 2007.

Cannabis abuse figures have stabilized recently. In 2008, one in ten people in Spain used the drug, which was slightly lower than the prior year. In the most susceptible age group, 15 - 24, almost one quarter reported using cannabis in the prior year.

Only Italy's rate of cannabis use was higher than Spain's, but Spain had a higher number of people who were daily users of the drug, meaning that they run a much higher risk of addiction.

"Problem Drug Users" Number Nearly Quarter of a Million People

Out of this quarter-million people, more of them had substance abuse problems with cocaine - 47 percent - than any other drug, followed by opiates at 39 percent. Spain's substance abuse treatment centers are not sufficient to treat even half of those suffering from addiction which leaves many thousands of people struggling every day.

Part of the solution to drug use will always be drug education and reduction of demand for addictive drugs. There are five Narconon centers in Spain that are dedicated to changing the minds of people who are not yet trapped in addiction. Four of them are located in Valencia on the east coast of Spain, and one is located in Murcia-Los Dolores, near Cartagena in the south.

And when people need drug addiction treatment in a residential facility, there are three Narconon treatment centers available for them. In Madrid, the substance abuse treatment center is a comfortable, home-like setting surrounded by valleys and trees. And there are two in Alcala de Guadaira in Seville, the southernmost portion of the country.

In Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, those who have become addicted can find hope. At these centers, each person has a chance to fully recover from alcohol consumption or illicit drug addiction. No drugs are needed to treat the depression that so often accompanies addiction. When the addicted person begins to recover his or her health and learns how to make drug-free decisions, depression very commonly lifts. Each addict learns that he or she has something good to look forward to after drug recovery.

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