Nearly three-quarters of those seeking addiction treatment in Italy were addicted to opiates. Approximately 14 percent were seeking help for cocaine addiction, and nearly 10 percent needed drug rehabilitation for cannabis. Other drugs causing the need for drug addiction treatment were Amphetamine-Type Stimulants and Ecstasy.
In 2007, more than half of all fatal car accidents were attributed to drivers under the influence of psychoactive substances, including alcohol consumption.
Fortunately for Italy and all Italians, there are eleven Narconon centers that are completely devoted to restoring this beautiful country to full, drug-free health once again. Four of them are drug education centers that teach young people how to make drug-free choices so they can avoid addiction. The other eight are residential drug rehabilitation centers where Italians can go to safely withdraw from the substance that got them addicted, and then go on to rebuild the life that was destroyed by drugs.
In the north near Florence and Bologna, there are two residential treatment facilities, one on the coast in Pesaro and one slightly south and inland in Novilara. In Bottanuco, there is a Narconon facility that provides drug prevention classes to the region around Bergamo.
In the north, near the border with Switzerland, there is another Narconon drug education and prevention center in Oligate Comasco, Lombardy.
The most southern part of Italy has three Narconon rehabilitation centers: one in the small town of Rende, and one in each of the villages of Papasidero and Altilia.
The famous "boot heel" of Italy has a Narconon drug and alcohol treatment center in the university town of Lecce. And in Sicily, there is another Narconon treatment center for addiction near the Eastern coast in Aci Sant'Antonio.
Near Milan, there is a substance abuse education center in Novara, in the middle of rich agricultural lands. And west of Asti, near the border with France and the Alps is the final addiction treatment center in Villafranca d'Asti.
With this many addiction treatment facilities and drug prevention services available, thousands of Italians can break the hold of addiction and regain productive, enjoyable lives.
Italy's drug problems began to escalate after the Second World War, when the gangster Lucky Luciano was deported from America back to Italy. Having run in organized crime circles in the U.S., he knew there would be a market for heroin, and he set up channels for high-volume heroin trafficking using the crime families of Italy. This was the beginning of the famed French Connection that was portrayed in the 1971 movie of the same name. Raw morphine base was shipped to Marseilles, France, where it was converted to heroin and then shipped to the U.S. At its peak, an estimated 95% of all heroin coming into the U.S. came via the French Connection. But some was always available for appetites at home in Italy.
Organized crime families also began to traffic cocaine in 1973, bringing it in from Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh and India. Cocaine poured into all major cities in Italy but heroin caused larger problems.
In the late 1980s, there were an estimated 100,000 heroin users in Milan. Italian police called Milan the "Heroin Capital of Europe." Between 1986 and 1988, the number of people who died of heroin overdoses tripled, surpassing the 800 mark. A 2009 report estimated heroin users in all of Italy at 305,000.
Today, most heroin travels from Turkey to Albania and then makes a short hop across the water to Italy. Approximately 45% of the heroin that comes from Albania is intended for to supply Italian appetites. The rest travels on to other Western European countries. Almost all the cocaine trafficked in Italy starts from Columbia or other South American criminal organizations.
Between 1984 to 2000, overdose deaths rose steadily among both men and women. The highest overdose rates for both males and females were seen in people between 25 and 34 years of age. Higher rates were seen in Northern Italy but the South saw the largest increases. These increases are considered to indicate that substance abuse increased in the general population in this time period.
Out of 5190 overdose deaths from this time period that were studied, 96 percent of all deaths were attributed to heroin. In about half these deaths it was found that the person who died had a mixture of three or more drugs (heroin, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, methadone) that were likely to have contributed to death. It was also noted that when a person dropped out of addiction treatment, it was common for them to fatally overdose on opioids soon afterwards.
According to a U.N report, use of cocaine in Italy doubled between 2001 and 2005, and then stayed at the same level till 2008. Currently, Italy is Europe's third largest cocaine market. An estimated 850,000 Italians are cocaine users.
And, like in most other parts of the world, cannabis (marijuana) is broadly used. As an index of the amount of this drug being moved throughout the country, more than 43,000 pounds (nearly 20,000 kg) of the drug were seized in 2007. The rates of substance abuse featuring cannabis doubled between 2003 and 2007, rising from 7.1 percent to 14.6 percent of the Italian population above 15 years of age. In all, there were an estimated 5.7 million cannabis users in 2007.