l BARTOMEU Catalá, the President of Proyecto Hombre - a drug addiction support group in the Balearics, yesterday warned that before long a serious drug addiction problem will come to light involving the immigrant population recently arrived on the Islands. Catalá made his fears public at a Press conference covering the presentation of the Centre's Annual Report for 2002. The event coincided with the celebration yesterday of the acknowledged World Day against Drugs. Catalá was accompanied on the occasion by the Managing Director of the Sa Nostra Foundation, Miquel Alenyá; the Communications director of Proyecto Hombre, Lino Salas; and Cristina Fernández who was responsible for the compiling of the report. The President of Proyecto Hombre explained that the problems of drug addiction amongst immigrant populations already exist in countries such as Italy, but here we are still without it, in the sense that the immigrants are still making no demand for treatment, although the conditions under which many of them live favour a decline into drug dependency and soon there will calls for help.
On the issue of provisions that will have to be envisaged for the near future, Lino Salas drew attention to the growth in the treatment needs of cocaine addicts, an epidemic that has existed for many years in America and that has now arrived in Europe. Meanwhile, she noted the heroin epidemic continues to be of concern on the Continent. More promisingly, recognition was given to the declining numbers of chemical drugs users. Figures dropped in Spain during 2002 by 10 percent compared to the previous year because young people have woken up to the danger of these drugs and how easily their misuse can lead to death. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening she added - in the consumption of cannabis. Adolescents and their families seem to have lost the concept of this substance as being a real risk. As a result, on a national level, 57 percent of young people admit to using it.
The Annual Report detailed that during 2002 Proyecto Hombre offered therapy to about 1000 people, nearly a half of them newcomers to the help programmes offered at the centre. The report included data from the three principal schemes that Proyecto Hombre makes available to adults, which are - the traditional programme, one known as Horabaixa and the therapeutic option called Casa Oberta. The latter is an initiative pioneered by Proyecto Hombre in the Balearics providing a day centre for long term heroin addicts who are being treated with methadone. Cristina Fernández explained that the information compiled in the report paints a picture of a typical user of the traditional programme offered at the centre aimed at heroin or other drug addicts. He is typically a man of about 31 years of age, who started abusing drugs when he was, say, 20 and who then applies for treatment following six years of addiction. This type of user who visits the centre would typically be a consumer of heroin and other drugs but it is the heroin that is the principal cause of his addiction. In 46.8 percent of cases, the user will have had problems with the law and 40 percent would have spent some stretch in prison. Some 25 percent will have a father with alcoholic problems and in 31.2 percent of cases, another member of their family will also suffer from drug addiction. The Horabaixa programme designed for cocaine addicts has also drawn up a profile of a typical user - a male of about 31 years of age, but who has started drug abuse at about 24 and who then applies for treatment following seven years of addiction. This user consumes cocaine or a combination of cocaine and alcohol; in 10 percent of cases there will have been problems with the law and 4.25 percent will have spent time in prison. The father will have had problems with alcohol in 22 percent of cases and in 12 percent will have someone else in the family who is also an addict.