Ecuador Drug Addiction
Ecuador finds itself in a precarious position - literally. It is flanked on one side by the largest cocaine producing country in the world - Colombia. And it is flanked on the other side by Bolivia, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the top coca leaf growing countries in the world. Understandably then, Ecuador has become a significant cocaine transit country. The FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known to be heavily involved with drug trafficking and using these funds to finance their activities, controls part of the Colombia-Ecuador border. This zone is central to the FARC’s drug trafficking operations. While the main body of FARC has settled with the Colombian government, there is an off-shoot that is still active in this country.
A growing quantity of drugs that arrive in Portugal and Spain, ultimately destined for other European cities, originated in Ecuador. Drugs are frequently transported north through Ecuador’s Pacific waters, with precursor chemicals used in the production of narcotics coming back on the return trip.
In July 2010, a drug transport submarine was found in the Ecuadorian jungle. One hundred feet long and capable of carrying ten tons of drugs, the submarine was near completion at a location near the Colombian border.
Ecuador has also seen three cocaine manufacturing labs destroyed recently and even a few fields of opium poppies were found and eradicated but the country shows no signs of becoming a large cultivator or manufacturer. The largest threat is the movement of drugs, precursor chemicals and cash proceeds of drug trafficking through the country.
Where Drug Trafficking Goes, Crime and Murders Usually Follow
Along with Bolivia, an increase in drug trafficking is being accompanied by an increase in violent crime and murder. Drug cartels from Colombia carry out their business in both countries and effect recriminations on those they feel have wronged or shortchanged them.
The pattern of murders has shifted as drug trafficking patterns have become better established. In 1990, a poor province in the center of the country had the highest murder rate in the country. But by 1995, a rich coastal province bordering Colombia and known for its use by drug traffickers had the highest murder rate: 34 per 100,000. That was more than twice the national average.
Increased Drug Trafficking Takes its Toll on Ecuadorians
While Ecuador’s substance abuse figures are lower than most other Latin American countries, still, hundreds of thousands of people in the country abuse opiates, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type drugs and need drug addiction treatment. In recent years, abuse of and addiction to Ecstasy has also increased. Increased quantities of Ecstasy in the country are thought to result from trades with European sources: Ecstasy to Ecuador in trade for cocaine to Europe.
And nearly half of cannabis users in Ecuador are not just “recreational users.” They are dependent users of cannabis, according to a recent survey.
As in many other countries, poverty and unemployment drive many people into drug use or drug dealing. Some of these people may be the only means of support for their children. Ecuador’s harsh drug laws mean that some people may be imprisoned for many years just for the possession of small quantities of drugs they were trying to sell. In some cases, non-violent drug offenders receive the same sentences as murderers. This fact makes effective drug rehabilitation and drug education all the more important. Some reports indicate that Ecuador may reform its drug policies to emphasize public health, which may mean that more funds will be dedicated to drug addiction treatment and drug education.
Few Addiction Treatment Facilities Exist for Ecuadorians Who Get Caught in Addiction
There are few locations that are dedicated to the treatment of drug addiction. A new hospital is being built in Quito, which has some of the highest addiction numbers in the country. This hospital will have facilities specifically designed for the rehabilitation treatment of drug or alcohol addicts and helping people recover from overdoses.
It doesn’t matter in what country drug addiction problems exist, it doesn’t matter what language is spoken by its people - the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program offers lasting sobriety to any addict who knows that he must find recovery or he will end up in jail or dead. In some 40 locations around the world, addicted people leave their drug problems behind and learn how to live productive, enjoyable lives free of drugs or alcohol as a result of graduating from the Narconon drug rehab program.