As figures reveal that the number of children using cocaine has quadrupled in a decade, local government begins to fortify the classroom battle against drugs
FOUR times as many school-age children in Granada are now using cocaine compared with a decade ago, according to a local government report.
In 1994, 1.8 per cent of 14 to 18 year-olds in the province admitted to using cocaine within the previous year. But by last year, that figure had risen to 7.2 per cent.
The figures have prompted the Diputación de Granada provincial government to specifically target schools in a new drug awareness campaign.
For many, the use of illegal drugs will lead to more than a mere flirtation, as those treating adult drug addicts testify. “The patients tell us they started taking drugs at 15 or 16 years old,” says Antonio Torres, the director of the Provincial Drug-Dependency Centre (CPD).
The centre run by Torres is one of those to be promoted as part of the Diputación’s new ‘Drug Consumption Awareness Campaign,’ which will begin in September, and be brought to health centres and town halls – as well as to local schools.
The campaign will make cocaine use amongst young people its primary concern, in light of the disturbing trends which have emerged in recent years.
Spain started as predominantly a cocaine transit country, a gateway from the producer nations in the Americas to the consumers of northern Europe. But the country got hooked en route and now, with 8.9 per cent of 15 to 34 year olds admitting to having used cocaine, it is second only in Europe to the UK where 10.5 per cent of young adults have taken the drug.
Torres notes that there has been a demographic shift in the average drug user. Until a few years ago, Granada’s drug treatment centres mostly had affluent young men of around 30 years old walking through their doors.
However today, the addiction ‘epidemic’ has reached people of varying economic means and, most disturbingly, more and more young people.
Part of the problem is that teenagers are finding themselves with increasing disposable income, while the price of cocaine has remained stable for a number of years.
During this year, the number of people being treated for cocaine addiction has surpassed the number of heroin addicts in Granada for the first time. During 2006, 2,000 people passed through the treatment centres of the CPD, 20 per cent of whom were addicted to cocaine and 26 per cent to heroin. So far this year, 24 per cent have been treated by the centre for cocaine addiction and 19.8 per cent have been treated for heroin addiction.
The report also details that cocaine sold in Granada tends to be up to 50 per cent pure; a high level of purity which, claims Torres, ensures a higher level of addiction. The rest is made up of sugars, anesthetics and other elements, such as talcum powder, flour or even heroin.