Peru: Growing concerns over drug abuse25/05/2012
LIMA, Peru – An unrelenting threat – that’s the Peruvian public’s main perception of narcotics use in the Andean nation, according to a recent survey conducted by a private institute from Spain that focuses on educating society about the dangers of consuming drugs.
The “Social perceptions about drugs in Lima, Peru,” survey administered by the Foundation Against Drug Addiction (FAD) revealed 82% of the 1,000 surveyed consider the drug problem to be “very serious,” with 74% claiming their communities and neighborhoods are already affected by it.
Meanwhile, 92.8% of respondents said drug-related theft and robberies are on the rise. Sixty-three percent surveyed consider cocaine to be one of the most abused drugs in Lima, and 40.7% said cocaine paste. Fifty-nine percent said strife within the family is one of the biggest factors contributing to drug use.
“These results will allow us to plan for interventions that involve the national, regional, and local authorities, teachers and above all the parents, without leaving out the private sector,” said Carmen Masías Claux, executive president of the National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (Devida), a governmental organization that focuses on stopping narco-trafficking and drug use.
Milton Rojas Valero, a narcotics specialist at the Education Center for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (CEDRO), said the public’s perception of drugs and the problems they cause is not far from reality.
“This is complemented by personality problems, the deterioration of relations within the family and the wide demand for drugs that are reaching universities and schools,” Rojas said.
There are more than 300,000 people in Peru who show signs of drug addiction, as between 60,000 and 100,000 are addicted to drugs such as cocaine chlorhydrate and cocaine paste, 120,000 to 150,000 who smoke marijuana and between 3,000 and 5,000 who use synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamines, according to CEDRO.
But thanks to the data gathered in the survey, public institutions that work with children, adolescents and young adults can create strategies to raise awareness about the negative consequences of using narcotics, said Paloma Albo Mata, a FAD Perú representative.
“We already know Peruvian society is worried,” Albo said. “What needs to come now is a stronger strategy for preventing drug dependency among adolescents and young people in Peru.”
Inés Bustamante, a professor at the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University who has a doctorate on the epidemiology of drugs, agrees with Albo.
“When the population perceives drug [abuse] to be a serious problem, that is when they’ll be ready to participate actively in finding a solution,” she said.
Any effort to fight drug addiction will succeed only in relation to how much it’s supported by the government, Bustamante said.
“If we have a high percentage of people who believe there are more drugs on the streets, then the strategy will be focused on schools, institutions and universities,” she said. “The message will be focused on the dangers of consuming these illegal substances.”
From January through this month, at least 4,059 suspects have been arrested on drug-related charges nationwide, including 2,613 for consumption, 846 for transporting and 600 for being involved in small-scale dealing, according to the Anti-Drug Department of the Peruvian Police (DIRANDRO).
In 2011, of the 12,196 suspects who were arrested nationwide on drug-related charges, 3,154 were accused of trafficking in drugs, 2,789 in small-scale dealing and 6,253 for consumption.