UKRAINIAN PSYCHIATRY NEWS Brief reports, abstracts and selected full text articles in English
More than 1000 full text articles in Russian and Ukrainian

Youth and Drugs (Sociology of Narcotism) Ľ


A. López-Blasco, F. P. Ferrando

* Published in Russian:

  1. López-Blasco, A., Ferrando, F. P. (2000). Drug addiction in Spain. PND Plan. In: Youth and Drugs (sociology of narcotism) (eds. V. A. Sobolev and I. P. Rushchenko), pp. 347–364. Kharkiv: Torsing.
  2. López-Blasco, A., Ferrando, F. P. (2000). Drug consumption in autonomous Valencia community. In: Youth and Drugs (sociology of narcotism) (eds. V. A. Sobolev and I. P. Rushchenko), pp. 365–387. Kharkiv: Torsing.

During long period of Francoís dictatorship (1939–1975) drug topic was never recognised as a social problem. Not even social sciences dealt with the problematic issue.

That social milieu of repression favoured vices and problems that authorities were not interested in. Therefore a hypocrite climate was created so the needed tranquillity of the established order could be sustained.

Drugs then probably were only available to a minority of the high class. But if it was that way the vices of that people were vices unknown to the rest of people. If itís existed in those circles, it could become a social problem, of course, but they never showed up in public opinion as so many other problems did which were not convenient. They were always well hidden under the blanket of hypocrisy.

Amphetamines for students, drugs, barbiturates, neuroleptics and etc. of pharmaceuticals against anxieties, depression, stress and other psychotic problems, were subscribed by medical professionals, psychologists and the pharmaceutical establishment were considered to be a danger only punctually and when abused going beyond the limits of the prescribed doses.

From the 60-es, was marked by the economic development and massive tourism, one starts to talk about illegal drug abuse in Spain. In a very minority way cannabis and LSD is being introduced. But at the same time social alarm appears and what since then has been called the drug problem. In 1973 the public opinion registers massive consumption amongst the university students of big cities, big groups of consumers and illegal distribution networks.

The coincidence of illegal drug consumption with the increase of the opposition towards the dictatorship (the end of the 70-es) and the social uproar against the dictator, makes the authorities present adversaries of the regime, students and intellectuals as drug consumers. In spite of those attempts of hiding the problem the magnitude of the problem imposes measures to be taken.

The recognition of the existence of addictive behaviours originated the scientific reports and public discussion, which facilitated political-administrative measures.

The death of the dictator in November 1975 started a political transition period towards democracy, which is totally established with the enactment of the Constitution in December 1978. This transition carries a social effect, in the case of the phenomenon of drug abuse, which is characterised by an unmasking of the problem, the scientific reports and by the approval of the first measures on state level: the National DrugPlan.

Scientific reports

Between 1975 and 1993, in Spain almost four hundred experimental works about drugs (surveys, studies, ratios) were undertaken.

That push of sociological research in Spain was due to the need of information in the socio-political area, created by democratic transition and the continuing modernisation process, difficult to understand without the continuo presence of such studies.

According to those studies we distinguish three phases in the reaction of Spanish society against the phenomenon of illegal drugs:

A first phase which is called Peripheral Phase, during which drugs appear as a phenomenon which causes alarm and perplexity, but which is kept at the margin of social processes. That phase corresponds with the contents of the surveys between the 1979–1983 years (What is that threat on the horizon?)

A second phase called Technical Phase, which supposed to give priority to professional approaches concerning particular problems caused by drugs. That phase correspondents with the surveys undertaken between 1984–1988. (What do we need to know to plan and undertake interventions?)

The third phase supposed the creation of a socio-political discourse to answer the anxiety created by the mass media. This third phase corresponds with surveys undertaken from 1989 and further by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS/Social Research Centre) and the Centro de Investigaciones sobre la Realidad Social(CIRES/Centre for the Research of Social Reality). (What do we have to do to keep citizens calm?)

The first measures are being taken on a state level: National Drug Plan

In 1985, when the National Drug Plan (abbreviated PND) was approved the bases were established to implement global policies on drug addiction.

The National Drug Plan, passed in July 1985, had as its main priorities:

  1. Reduction of supply and demand.
  2. Decrease citizensí insecurity.
  3. Offer of a public network of attention services, sufficient enough for both user and society in general.
  4. Co-ordination and co-operation between Administration and social institutions related with the problem.

With the aim of reaching the objectives of the Plan series of actions were conceived and designed grouped together in the following areas: prevention, assistance, reinsertion, information and co-ordination. All measures integrated in the Plan have to be adequate to reality to which they want to be an answer and be coherent in its development.

With the creation of the PND, abstinence and social reinsertion are established as general objectives of assistance. Assistant resources have been increasing year after year going from 160 centres in 1986 up to 1119 centres in the 1995. The most significant increase during this period of time takes place in those centres that distribute metadona. In relation with those centres that distribute metadona and ambulatory centres two differentiated phases can be observed.

In the fist phase (1986–1992) more distinguishable increase of the Ambulatory Centres takes place, while in the second (1993–1995) the higher increase corresponds to the methadone distribution centres. This increase of methadone distributing centres has its origin in the alarming increase of AIDS cases amongst drug abusers, which use needles, from the late 80-s.

Apart from resources already mentioned, there are others oriented towards reinsertion as:

  1. Occupational centres
  2. Labour programmes
  3. Self-help groups
  4. Alternative residences (that supply the drug addict with a transitory residence in the process of social reinsertion)

In planning of socio-political measures information and documentation play a very important role.

There are three chapters:

  1. The state information system on drug addiction
  2. Population surveys
  3. Police statistics

Each one of those ways supplies information on a different area of the problem.

a) The state-wide information system on drug addiction.

The information system on drug addiction (SEIT) starts its development from 1986. The SEIT shows part of drug consumer (opiates and cocaine) which are or have been in treatment. This follow-up system has its inconvenience in collection of data, as one does not receive notification of all patients treated and it is very expensive to produce. Even so, it is a very efficient instrument as it shows the evolution of the prevalence and incidence of abuse of opiates and cocaine.

The indicators used by the SEIT are:

  1. Assistance demand. New attended cases in treatment centres.
  2. Mortality caused by drug consumption. Death by acute reaction where the only death determining cause has been drug abuse (overdose, toxic reaction caused by adulteration, allergic reaction).
  3. Hospital Emergency Services. Here are taken together those emergency directly provoked by drug abuse (abstinence syndrome, overdose), as well as those where the consumption of drugs has been a contributing factor to emergency cases (accidents, infections).

b) Population surveys

However, the most important source to obtain information on drug consumption is the Domestic Survey on Drug Consumption, which alternatively every year undertakes a Survey on Drugs amongst the School Students and the Domestic Survey on Drug Consumption.

The Domestic Survey (in 1997 about 12445 interviews were made amongst population from 15 to 65 years) produces valuable information on prevalence of consumption of different drugs amongst Spaniards, profiles of consuming population, the evolution of consumption, and attitudes and citizensí opinions about basic aspects related to drug consumption and measures to be adopted to solve problems derived of it.

c) Police statistics

Police statistics inform about how many drugs has been apprehended and how many people have been detained for illegal trafficking. The apprehensions may or may not be destined for personal consumption and people arrested may or may not be consumers. These data in contrast with rest of indicators help to form an idea about the situation.

d) Finally, in 1998 the Spanish Drugs and Drug Addiction Observatory was created, as an institution that develops in Spain those functions which on a European level are responsibility of the European Drugs and Drug Addiction Observatory.

Drug consumption in the Land of Valencia

The most significant results published recently in the Land of Valencia.

The study of 1997 (survey of 2000 people of 15 to 65 years of age) observes that drugs are present, and are a very important presence, in everyday social structure of this territory. The percentages of people that know drugs and are in contact with consumers, which feel that accessibility to consumption is easy and who perceive a certain type of conflict in relation with it, leave no doubt in respect to the volume of phenomenonís presence.

The reason most often expressed for consuming drugs is for pleasure and fun (45,3%). Nevertheless, consumption of drugs cannot be explained with just one motive: even more, depending on who is consumer, age, and milieu... answer to this question will vary.

The start in the drug consumption takes place earlier each time. During adolescence and early youth the initiation in illegal drugs takes place: cannabis, cocaine, synthetic drugs, heroine and others.

The consumers of substances normally do not consume just one drug, rather the phenomenon called poly-consumption or poly-drug addiction takes place, that is a great number of drug consumers use two or more substances with the aim of achieving the desired effects.

An increase in multiple consumption with cocaine at its base is taking place, while there is a decrease around heroine. Consumption of tobacco and alcohol and psycho-pharmaceuticals are still very rooted.

The most striking phenomenon of the most recent research (1997–2000) is: to observe how usual it has become to consume drugs; that it takes place in normalised segments of the population (drugs are not related with marginal people only). Even if consumption has a certain individual component, this attitude is influenced by the dominant socio-cultural context of the moment.

Finally we want to state in the summary that the evolution of addictive substance abuse is very discouraging, which leads us to the necessity of proposing a preventive intervention which will help to avoid new risk factors.

Russian full text articles >>

© Ukrainian Psychiatry News, 2002
Editorial board:
ISSN 1990–5211