Drug Addiction and Treatment in Macedonia

Ohrid Macedonia

Macedonia lies almost directly in the path of one of the major heroin trafficking paths in the world—from Afghanistan through Turkey and Bulgaria on its way to Europe. It’s estimated that 80 tons of heroin travel 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 the drugs pass through the country 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. The most recent estimate of injecting drug users in the country (which most often means opiates) is 10,200.

There are about twenty treatment locations of different types, including three inside prisons. While nearly all treatment admissions were from opiates, as of 2013, about 8% also needed help with cannabis and 9% needed help for sedatives as secondary addictions. 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 2013, only 1,141 Macedonians entered drug recovery programs while more than 8,000 in the country were heroin users.

The main method of drug addiction treatment for opiate addiction uses methadone or buprenorphine to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to relieve the addicted person from the need to lead a criminal lifestyle. Unfortunately, when a person uses these drugs, 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 Balkan in Macedonia

Narconon Macedonia Helps Turn Things Around

Narconon Macedonia, located in Skopje, offers drug-free withdrawal and rehabilitation from addiction.

A thorough detoxification followed by counseling and life skills training enable a person in a drug program to see things in a whole new light so they can live an enjoyable, productive life again. This is the way the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program works.

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