Officials in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo are to begin making people addicted to crack cocaine get treatment.
A new law allows mandatory treatment for drug users in “advanced stages of addiction” and at risk of death. Social services, not police, will identify potential patients on the streets, the state government says.
A similar policy already targets addicted minors living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Rodrigo Viga Gaier – Reuters/NBC News, 01/10/2013
A 10-year-old Brazilian boy was hit by a car and killed on Thursday as he fled a drug sweep by police and social workers, reigniting debate over the government’s tough response to a surge in crack cocaine use.
The incident occurred around 4 a.m. on one of the main thoroughfares in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s main tourist destination, the city’s social welfare department said in a statement.
The boy, whose name was not released, was part of a large cluster of crack users who scattered as police and social workers approached.
A survey by UNIFESP’s National Institute of Science and Technology for Public Policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs found that four percent of Brazil’s adult population, nearly six million people, have experimented with cocaine or its derivatives in their lives.
Among adolescents, the percentage reached three percent or 442,000 youths.
Over the past year, 2.6 million adults and 244,000 adolescents said they used the drugs.
Laura Muth – InSight Crime, 08/19/2011
While crack cocaine has declined in popularity in the U.S., its use is increasing in Latin America, spreading to non-coca producing countries like Brazil and Argentina.
These countries are increasingly becoming drug consumers as well as transit points for traffickers. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Argentina accounts for 25 percent of the cocaine use in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Brazil accounts for a third of all use in the region, and Chile for a further 10 percent.
Part of this new drug consumption is driven by cheap cocaine by products like crack. Variations of this drug are known by different names across the region, such as “paco” in Argentina and Uruguay, “merla” in Brazil, and “basuco” in Colombia.