Staff Reporter THE average age of women in the Balearics who began taking heroin in 2003, was just 16. These, and other shocking statistics, were revealed yesterday by Juan Manel Quetglas, director general of “Proyecto Hombre”, an established institution which offers treatment programmes for victims of drug and alcohol abuse.

He confirmed that the age figure for women was different from that of men, where those who were given help by “Proyecto Hombre” had an average age of 19.

Although 88 percent of people treated were men, said Quetglas, the last two years have witnessed a light rise in the number of women because the traditional “detox” programme, has been adapted to cater for the needs of women.

Quetglas, was reporting yesterday on the Institution's activities and findings in 2003. He confirmed that the average age of multiple drug takers is 31 years, and that a typical profile is of someone who has been using heroin for 10 years at the same time as cocaine, alcohol and cannabis.

The incidence of those affected by hepatitis in this group stands at 33 percent, while 18 percent have registered HIV positive. “Due to their having to inject themselves” said the director, “the state of health of these people is worse than that of groups who take other substances”.

Quetglas also drew attention to the fact that a multiple drug addict spends on averge 1'270 euros a month in the purchase of drugs. Cocaine addicts alone spend on average 1'220 euros a month.

The president of Proyecto Hombre, Tomeu Català, explained that next Saturday is World Day against Drugs, spearheaded by the slogan “Treatment Works”.
According to Català, the Balearics is fighting back against “epidemics” of heroin taking and the abuse of other substances, with specialised treatment and prevention programmes.

In 2003, the organisation attended to the needs of a total of 153 addicts, 45 of which have now found work, 27 have taken training courses and 80 are in the process of recovery.