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Brazil forces crack cocaine addicts to rehab

Not long ago the Daily Mash published an article making fun of the rave generation, with ecstasy-popping parents trying to lure their offsprings into a psychedelic experience to no avail. Apparently, today’s kids are too smart to waste time self destructing in front of a speaker, they rather get out there and try to make a living the old-fashioned way (which involves getting a regular job) wisely preserving their neurons for the future. But is it, really?

Official statistics don’t do much to confirm the trend change. The Home Office Committee’s first report on UK drug policy in 10 years has recently declared that “drug use in England and Wales is at its lowest rate since 1996”, although there has been “a significant increase in the use of [often untested] psychoactive substances otherwise known as legal highs”, which is not comforting at all. In addition, the Department of Health has revealed that in the last five years, around 5,500 babies were born addicted to drugs, and Nick Clegg has blurted out - much to David Cameron’s dismay - that Britain is ‘losing the war on drugs on an industrial scale’.

It’s hard to work out the current extent of the problem, as overconfident reports might be a way to make some specific services appear less needed, and spending cuts more justifiable. Said that, here in the UK the situation is nowhere near as tragic as in other countries, such as Brazil, where the government has recently resorted to even more extreme measures than usual to fight its war on drugs.

As from next week, in the brazilian state of Sao Paulo, probably the country's most densely populated area, crack addicts will be forcibly sent to rehabilitation centres in an effort to deter new users and concretely help old ones. The move could seem controversial to some but it has to be reminded that Brazil is at the moment the world's largest consumer of both cocaine and crack, and the trail of misery left by these hard drugs is bringing the country to boiling point.

But is forcing all addicts to rehab the solution? To overcome dependencies for good it takes more than temporary forcible segregation: what the addict needs usually is to rebuild self worth and confidence through programs that involve long-term support. Aren't they all going to relapse as soon as they step out of the detoxing facilities?

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