Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nine year old “smackheads”

The consumption of drugs in Spain has always been alarmingly high amongst youngsters, but a shocking report in the newspaper, Informacion warns that children as young as 9 and 10 are trying drugs in Elche and its surrounding areas. The clinic Unidad de Conductas Adictivas (UCA) in Elda is at present treating 50 youngsters for drug addiction. The majority of the patients are addicted to cannabis, according to José José Gil, a nurse at the clinic.

The average age is between 14 and 16, but staff are noticing a rapid drop in this age. The UCA now has patients as young as 12, with cannabis and alcohol addictions, who say they started consuming at the age of 9. The treatment they receive is given by a psychologist, a doctor, a social worker, two nurses, an auxiliary nurse and an administrative assistant. The minimum length for a successful treatment is a year. The biggest challenge is to ensure the patients don’t abandon the treatment in the first few months. As José José says, “none come of their own accord, but we have managed to have a 90% success rate.” Most are either brought in by their parents or are sent for treatment by the “Fiscalia de Menores” (the juvenile police).

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