Growing Drug Consumption In Peru A Concern – U.S. Gov’t

An increase in illicit drug consumption in Peru is a growing concern, while the country lacks sufficient facilities and resources to provide treatment to drug-abusers, the U.S. government said.

The U.S. State Department, in its 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy report, said that about 1 million Peruvians use illegal drugs, while there are some 150,000 addicts in the country.

Public treatment facilities are “insufficient,” with only 6,000 addicts receiving care in 2010, the report said. “The [Government of Peru’s] Ministry of Health is developing regulations to standardize treatment and rehabilitation centers. A few major prisons have also established treatment and rehabilitation programs,” the report said.

The lack of state investment in rehabilitation has led to a number of informal centers to meet the growing demand for treatment. A number of these centers have sprung up in Peru’s main cities, “but many suffer from a shortage of trained staff,” the report found.

Earlier this year, a fire engulfed an unlicensed drug rehab center in Lima’s poor San Juan de Lurigancho district, killing 27 people. The victims were unable to escape the blaze because the doors were locked. Authorities were investigating if the patients were being held against their will.

The State Department report adds that some informal centers, often located in low-income areas, are led by former addicts. “There are no therapeutic communities, rehabilitation centers, or clinics specifically for women and teenagers,” it added.

Drug consumption in Peru often gets little attention when lawmakers are discussing anti-drug policies. The U.S.-backed policies are heavily focused on eradicating coca crops and decreasing cocaine production.

Peru is the world’s top producer of cocaine, according to the U.S. government.

The State Department said that it supports President Ollanta Humala’s efforts to implement a “comprehensive counternarcotics strategy that maintains core commitments to eradication, interdiction and alternative development and also addresses important associated issues like combating organized crime, controlling precursor chemicals, enhancing investigations of money laundering and financial crimes, and focusing on the administration of justice.”

It said, however, that Peruvian agencies are not consistently effective in coordinating counternarcotics activities. “Additional GOP (Government of Peru) resources would allow them to more aggressively interdict maritime, land, and airport narcotics shipments,” the report said.

Colombia and Bolivia are other major producers of cocaine. The world’s top cocaine consumers remain the U.S. and Western Europe, although consumption has been increasing in developing countries.

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