Hooked On Drugs: West Africa’s Growing Addiction

June 22, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

West Africa’s Guinea Bissau may be small in size, but it’s big on the market for drug traffickers.

Originally intended as the crossroads for Africa’s drug trade, a Christian Science Monitor reports that the country’s capital “has become a place to sling crack and hook users.”

Regional Representative Alexandre Schmidt for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says there’s been a huge increase in cocaine addiction throughout West Africa. According to the UN, West Africa partook in about 13 metric tons of cocaine in 2009. That’s about “$800 million snow worth,” which also equals the entire gross domestic product of Guinea Bissau.

Those tons weren’t originally intended for the region. The UN believes they represent a third of the 35 tons of cocaine headed to Europe that were unloaded on the docks of Guinea Bissau. Amine Michel Saad, Guinea Bissau’s Attorney General calls them “other people’s problems that have been loaded onto our backs.”

And other people’s problems have now become a huge public health concern for the small country. While the cocaine addiction continues to grow, a rural clinic run by an elderly priest serves as the country’s only treatment center.

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