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Brazil redoubles efforts agaisnt cocaine

12-21-2011 15:07 BJT

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The Brazilian government has announced that it plans to spend 2.2 billion dollars to battle crack cocaine addiction.

An astimated a million Brazilians are believed to be regular users of the highly addictive drug - a derivative of cocaine. The government money is to be spent on rehabilitation clinics, and greater efforts to fight drug trafficking at Brazil's borders. Stephen Gibbs sends this report from Sao Paulo.

A weekday afternoon, outside Sao Paulo's main train station. In full view of the police and passers-by, hundreds of crack cocaine addicts gather to smoke and deal their drug.

And these days it's busier than ever. Brazil's economic boom means that now there is more money for everything in this country - including drugs.

To the onlooker, it seems the government is doing nothing to stop this. But that might be about to change.

One year into her administration, President Dilma Rousseff has admitted what everyone already knew, that crack cocaine abuse has reached epidemic proportions here. Her government plans to spend more than two billion dollars tackling the problem.

CCTV's Stephen Gibbs said, "Part of the reason for the initiative may be Brazils concern about its international image. Behind me they are building the stadium where the opening match of the 2014 world cup will be played. All around here, we have seen dozens of people openly taking crack cocaine. "

The government strategy will involve a clampdown on cocaine trafficking, and massive expansion of existing projects like this one in the capital. Health service workers prepare to go into areas where crack addict congregate every day to try and make contact, and persuade them to take treatment.

A health professional said, "In the beginning the addicts threw rocks at us but we eventually earned their trust."

It is valuable, and sometimes dangerous work, but some say it is does little to solve the real problem. And that is that crack cocaine is widely, and cheaply available, all over Brazil.

Dr. Ronaldo Laranjeira, Sao Paulo Federal Univ., said, "It's big phenomen in Brazil. We have increased the number of people selling drugs all over Brazil. There is a huge network of people selling drugs. For less that 2 dollars you can buy a rock of crack.

We estimate there are one million crack users in Brazil. And 30 percent will die, mainly from violent deaths. If this is true, that is 300,000 people. It is a huge problem."

Valerio is one of the the lucky ones. He is currently nearing the end of treatment at a rehabilitation clinic in Sao Paulo, after 2 years living on the streets. He first tried crack cocaine at the age of 18; when he was a happily employed young man, working for a technician for an american firm

Valerio said, "It was like love at first sight, that is what he said. But the affair soon turned into a nightmare. Valerio descended into a life of theft and survival, as he tried to find the money to fund his habit. Eventually he summoned the strength to seek medical help. And then came the withdrawal symptoms. I felt suffocated desperate I wanted to escape from here. I was trembling, my legs and hands were shivering. Nausea, It's that feeling as if my insides were being ripped out, I felt as if my arm my legs were being taking away as if my living essence was being killed. my pain was so powerful that they had to give me extremely strong medication as a last resort. "

With weeks of dedicated, expensive care, individuals can be weaned from their addiction to crack. But Brazil has a million addicts. This habit is going to be hard to break.

 

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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