A recent study from the Federal University of Sao Paulo shows that “Brazil is now the world’s largest consumer of both cocaine and its crack derivative.”
Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckman announced on Thursday that Brazil’s wealthiest state will begin providing “about $650 a month in subsidies for the rehabilitation of addicts at private treatment centers.” The money will be “earmarked” every month for every crack user who is 18-years-old and older who “voluntarily enrolls” in a drug rehab program. The new program is expected to launch within the next two months in 11 cities in the country’s most populous state. According to Alckmin each of the cities enrolled in the program “will decide the criteria that determine if drug users are eligible.” The state will invest $2 million a month which is expected to benefit 3,000 addicts.
Addicts will be issued a “Begin Again” card when they enroll in the program that can then be presented to “accredited rehabilitation centers” who would then be issued the money set aside by the government. The “Begin Again” cards are valid for six months which experts in Brazil have determined is the time frame necessary for rehabilitation. Alckmin explained that the Begin Again card “is a passport to a new life … This program will help drug users re-establish ties with their families and their friends. It will offer professional and cultural workshops and help them find jobs. In short it will help reinsert them into society.”
Last year Brazil’s federal government pledged over $2 billion to fight the “crack epidemic,” providing training for health care workers, purchase thousands of both hospital and shelter beds, and build “transitional centers” and programs for recovering addicts.
Photo: AP/Andre Penner