São Paulo Opens a Center for Drug Addicts

By Dialogo
March 30, 2012

On March 27, the government of the Brazilian state of São Paulo opened a specialized center that expects to offer help to hundreds of drug users, more than two months after the police takeover of “Crackolandia,” the giant neighborhood in the city center known for the use and trafficking of narcotics.

In total, the modern complex will provide health care and social and psychological services to over 1,200 people a day, including users and street people. According to Governor Geraldo Alckmin, a separate unit will provide care to at least 300 drug users, especially users of crack or cocaine residue.

The facilities include dormitory rooms, a reading room, a game room, and a gardening work area.

Slightly over two years before Brazil’s largest city will host the opening match of the 2014 Soccer World Cup, the authorities are seeking to fulfill their promise to aid the population that lives in the streets of “Crackolandia,” which stretches for ten blocks of dilapidated buildings in the heart of the city.

“We’re taking another step in the fight against the drug epidemic in the city. ‘Crackolandia’ isn’t gone, but the fight is heading in the correct direction,” the mayor of the city of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, was happy to say for his part.

President Dilma Rousseff’s administration created a 2.2-billion-dollar fund to invest in prevention plans, medical treatment, and the fight against drug trafficking. For this center, it collaborated with 16.5 million dollars.

“Isolated actions in any sector, at any level of government, won’t be successful in combating these epidemics that are contaminating Brazil, our state, our city,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said.

In January, around 300 Military police occupied “Crackolandia,” with the objective of putting an end to the crack market and removing hundreds of drug addicts, the indigent, and traffickers who occupy its streets.

Between 2003 and 2011 the number of cases of chemical dependence in Brazil has multiplied tenfold, striking social groups and regions that had not been affected, Padilha lamented.