Portugal and Spain tighten anti-drug measures

These two countries have an incidence of heroin abuse of around 1% of the population, this being the drug most consumed, among the group classified as “hard drugs”. The problem in Portugal has given the country the worst record in AIDS cases per capita in the European Union, and it is second only to the Ukraine in the continent as a whole.

The Spanish National Coordinator of the programme against Drugs, Gonzalo Robles and the Portuguese Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, Vitalino Cas, declared that they are extremely preoccupied at the new releases of Afghan heroin onto the market, declaring that their countries will be a prime target destination.

The Portuguese-Spanish Joint Commission of Cooperation in the fight against Drugs issued a declaration which states that the two countries intend to increase their intervention in territorial waters against drug smugglers and will collaborate strongly with Latin American countries in the fight to limit the activities of the smugglers to the minimum possible (given that to eradicate the problem is virtually impossible).

The two countries will increase their exchange of information on suspects and will step up educational campaigns to prevent children from getting into drug abuse. In Portugal and Spain, the typical profile of the drugs user is a person who started smoking marijuana at 13 years of age and who, given an absence of support in the family, gradually gravitates upwards towards harder drugs, classically first cocaine sniffing and then smoking heroin (freebasing).

Heroin is as addictive when smoked as it is when injected. Those who go on to inject the drug intravenously are subject to increased risk of infection with diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, a new multi-resistant strain of which has been discovered in Portugal, through the use of shared needles.

Habits that can cost as much as 400 USD per day to feed mean that the drugs users have to perform illicit activities, such as burglary, robbery or prostitution to arrange the money for their habits. This also places them at additional risk, apart from increasing the problem of marginalisation from society, leading in many cases to social exclusion, from which there is a reduced hope of return.