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SCIENCE

This week: Analyzing Addictions

Text by Eve IRVINE

Latest update : 2009-08-10

Addictions cost Europe 57 billion euros every year. Some countries have come up with innovative ways of dealing with the problem HEALTH travels to Switzerland and visits a welcome and injection centre for drug users in the heart of Geneva.

 
It’s called the Quai 9 and it’s been operating for eight years already. This centre opens its doors to drug users every day and sees around 100 people cross its threshold. Its goal is to help reduce the risks drug addicts take, provide them with a safe and clean environment to take their drugs and offer them somewhere to come and talk.
 

When addicts arrive they can change their used needles for clean new ones before getting a ticket for the injection room where, under the supervision of a professional they can satisfy their cravings.

 

The Director of the site, Christophe Mani says it’s a non judgmental atmosphere that doesn’t try and get users to give up but tries to help them regain a sense of respect for themselves and a feeling of self-worth.

 

"We're not going to be the reason that people give up drugs, we can encourage them, or stimulate them but fundamentally its up to the individual to decide,” Mani notes.  “But,’ he adds, ‘what we see is that we have a lot of people and the first task is to restore their feeling of self worth."

 

A number of users at the centre go out collecting any discarded needles left lying around the community. It's a job that makes them feel worthwhile and helps to keep the centre on good terms with locals. In a referendum at the end of last year, 74% of the cities residents voted in favour of state run drug schemes.

 

But it’s not just chemical substances that the brain gets addicted to. Games can seriously lose their fun and become a serious problem. Last year, some thirty million people tried their luck at least once and it's thought there are around a million people in France alone with a serious addiction to gambling. The issue is starting to get more and more attention there with staff being trained to spot a client in trouble and pamphlets with help lines being placed all around casinos. Indeed there are even psychologists giving sessions around slot machines.

 

And from being addicted to casino games to playing Russian roulette with your life-a corner in the UK warns against experimenting with GBL, an drug that the government there is thinking about banning. The industrial solvent has become increasingly popular on the party scene over the last five years.

 

Maryon Stewart, whose 21-year-old daughter Hester died in April after she mixed a small amount of GBL with alcohol is campaigning to have GBL banned saying that if it was illegal her daughter would have thought twice about taking it.

 

Date created : 2009-08-10

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