Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation
Rehabilitacion de las drogas
Del Barco Centenera 984
C.P. 1642 San Isidro
Provincia de Buenos Aires
Phone and fax: 54 11 4743 8003
Article continued from Argentina drug addiction
Argentina Becomes a Consumer Country as Well as a Drug Transit Country
For years, Argentina was viewed as just a transit country for drug traffickers. That is, drug cartels took advantage of porous borders and lax law enforcement to move their drugs to points from which they could be shipped to the U.S. or Europe. But in the last couple of years, Argentina has been reclassified by many as a transit, production and consumer country. And cheap, toxic paco was a big reason why.
When Colombian drug lords started feeling the pressure of law enforcement, they stopped being able to get all the precursor chemicals they needed to make a high-quality product. Europeans began to reject the drugs and so they had a lot of low-quality cocaine on hand, diluted with caffeine, the anesthetic lidocaine, baking soda or other drugs. They chose to unload this supply on Argentina where it is called paco. They also found a market for it within their own country, where a similar drug is called basuco.
While cheap paco with its short, intense high is a drug abused by many people living in poverty, it's also a middle-class drug. And plenty of people in the middle and upper classes are also abusing powder cocaine and other drugs.
It was estimated that there were 27,000 addicts in Buenos Aires in 2007, but that the number has since doubled.
While treatment statistics for all of Argentina are hard to come by, it's possible to find out what is sending people into drug rehabilitation services within the capital city. Just over half the people going to drug rehab are sent there due to an addiction to cocaine. Fourteen percent of these are addicted to the paco form of the drug. Cannabis sends another 40 percent, inhalants seven percent and other drugs less than one percent.
In Buenos Aires, there are only two publicly-funded drug recovery centers. Churches run several more drug rehabs. Some drug rehabilitation treatment is done in psychiatric centers. There are some self-help groups for those with the self-discipline to attend the alcohol or drug recovery meetings.
By January 2003, there had already been several years of delivery of the Narconon drug education and prevention curriculum to the youth of Buenos Aires and Argentina, teaching them of the dangers of drug use. Rather than using scare tactic or just telling young people not to use drugs without telling them why, the Narconon drug prevention curriculum uses truth and vivid communication to make it very real what kind of damage can occur when someone starts to use drugs. Those attending understand that drug use is not a harmless entertainment, it is something that will do lasting damage, even minor or moderate drug use.
When the results of the Narconon drug prevention curriculum were measured, it was found that the students changed their minds about the advisability of using drugs. Some students reported back that they were on the verge of using drugs for the first time and changed their minds, or that they destroyed the drugs they had with them when they heard the lecture. By follow-up survey done after these classes had been delivered, it could be seen that drug use among these students fell. Among other students who were compared with this group and who did not receive the classes, drug use rose.
But it was not enough to just teach young people not to start using drugs. There needed to be a solution for those who had already become addicted. And so hope was brought to Argentina in the form of a Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in San Isidro, north of Buenos Aires, that opened in 2003.
In a comfortable, peaceful setting, Argentineans can get their lives back from cocaine, paco, cannabis or alcohol. Right away, they are helped with nutritional supplements and good food to start recovering their health. Gentle exercises help make withdrawal more tolerable so that no substitute drugs are needed. And when the person finally gets clean of the drugs, he or she can start to rebuild their integrity and self-esteem and the relationships that were destroyed by the addiction to drugs or liquor.
It takes time and the care of the Narconon drug program staff to overcome the guilt, depression and loss that results from drug use and addiction. But it can be done and is being done at the Narconon addiction treatment facility in San Isidro, every day.