Drug Addiction in Calabria, Southern Italy

Calabria region in Italy

While the figures appear to be less significant compared to other areas of the Italian peninsula, drug addiction in the southern region of Calabria is, unfortunately, a sad and symptomatic reality—and partly also a cause - of its traditional social distress that the region has struggled to overcome. As in the rest of southern Italy, in Calabria the drug market is dominated and controlled solely by the organized crime, in this case by the ‘Ndrangheta, which often handles the traffic directly with the drug lords, as in the case of cocaine, which comes from Latin America by commercial vessels and containers intended just for drug import.

Contrary to the general trend of the rest of the country, the local heroin use has increased, and growing even at a faster pace is the use of cocaine. The median age of drug users has dropped, in particular with reference to marijuana and cannabinoids that are typically used and abused by teenagers, but in some cases even by children. And the danger goes far beyond the short or long-term damage created by smoking marijuana because the substance is often cut with other drugs far more addictive than cannabis.

Statistics of Drug Use in Calabria

Thousands of people in Calabria are treated each year for drug addiction, with the majority being heroin users. Fewer than 20% need treatment for marijuana or cocaine addiction. But to these figures we must also add the number of those who, for different reasons, don’t seek the assistance of treatment facilities, such as alcoholics, women and young people recently initiated to the use of drugs, and also those who, unfortunately, become addicted because of the use of psychiatric drugs and other prescription drugs that are too easily dispensed by medical doctors. Bottom line, the real figures of drug and alcohol abuse in Calabria are much higher.

Calabria’s location makes it suitable for the conveyance of drugs from Sicily, an important location for drug traffickers. Consenza seems to be the major transfer point for drugs coming from Sicily into the main body of Italy, as 37,084 kg of marijuana, 100 kg of hashish and 5,100 kg of heroin were seized in this area in 2014. In Crotone, another 1,900 kg were seized and in Reggio Calabria, such a short hop from Sicily, 4,000 kg of marijuana was found and destroyed.

Narconon Falco in Calabria

Treatment and Prevention

In Calabria, there are more than two dozen drug addiction treatment facilities, with a total capacity of more than 100 patients in semi-residential facilities and close to 500 in residential facilities. One of these is the drug rehabilitation center, Narconon Falco, located in Contrada Monti, near Alitalia, in the province of the city of Cosenza. Formed in 1990, the center and its staff have received numerous awards from the local authorities for their work and for having saved hundreds of lives from the plague of drugs.  

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