By Humphrey Carter PALMA is one of the drug capitals of Europe with one of the highest levels of designer drug abuse. Along with Liverpool and Berlin, the European Commission-financed research institute IREFREA, which has a centre in Palma, revealed in Majorca yesterday that it is to embark on a three-year study of use and abuse of drugs, in particular recreational drugs, in Palma and the other top ten European cities as part of a fresh war against drugs.

Psychiatrist Amador Calafat said in Palma yesterday that there is a false sense of security in Europe that recreational drug use is less dangerous than before. But the reality is that drugs are causing more and more social problems such as community violence, unwanted pregnancies and accidents. “The problem is that very healthy people are using drugs and it is considered much safer because the new ways of consuming drugs are less dangerous,” he said.

Calafat explained that the new investigation will study which designer drugs are being consumed, how, and the lifestyles of the consumers in cities like Palma, Liverpool, Berlin, Vienna, Lisbon, Athens and Utrecht.

He added that the problems of each city needs to be dealt with differently because drug use and abuse varies depending on the lifestyles which differ from city to city.

Dr. Karol Kumpfer, drug prevention advisor to the White House, is in Palma to help the local government introduce a similar anti-drugs programme to one in force in the United States.

She said yesterday that the Spanish lifestyle is one of the reasons for the “very high use” of designer drugs in the Balearics. “There is a tendancy for people to go out much more often than elsewhere in Europe,” she said.
Bartomeu Jaume, head of the Balearic government's regional drugs plan, said that he and his department are seriously considering, in co-ordination with the island councils, adapting one of the US programmes to the Balearics in a bid to crack down on drug abuse.

At present, they are analysing all the facts and figures on drug use held by the regional Health, Education and Culture Ministries in a bid to design a specific programme for the Balearics.

Calafat said that one of the main differences between the United States and the Balearics, apart from the lifestyle, is that socio-cultural habits are very different, along with attitudes to drugs.

He said that the idea is to launch a two-way programme which, on the one hand, will be aimed at the children of people with drug abuse problems and on the other, target families through local schools and colleges.

The IREFREA Research Institute was created in Lyon in 1989 and today has seven permanent offices and different research partners in 13 European countries.

Its main objectives are: l Primary prevention: operating before youth problems appear. This means educating young people so they understand the risk factors. l Global primary prevention: dealing with different problems amongst teenagers: drug use and behavioural disorders. l Integrated primary prevention: acting within educational, recreational, cultural and parental environments.