COMMENT

Drug deaths

By Pantelis Boukalas

World-something days tend to have little impact on the causes they are intended to showcase: a bit of extra publicity boosted by many ambitious declarations that pay little heed to political effectiveness. Like C.P. Cavafy's candles, official World-something days go by and fade away without pricking any consciences. It was like that yesterday, as officials took the opportunity of World Day against Drug Abuse to rehash the all-too-familiar statements about the extent of the drug abuse problem and to repeat the same old pledges about an all-out war against drug traffickers. However, this war is much tougher than political officials seem to think. Traffickers are not the sole enemy. In fact, some countries' economies are dependent on the drug trade. But there are also the self-styled champions of the noble cause who turn out to be part of the problem, not the solution, when they fall victims to inertia, prejudice or lack of planning. How can the war come to an end when there is an absence of strategy, supplies, funds, special units, or when drug addicts have to wait up to three years to join some rehabilitation program? How many battles have been lost in the war because OKANA, the state organization against drugs, has been left without a chief for four months? Is there any need for more proof of the current chaos than the fact that the Public Power Corporation (PPC) cut the electricity to a Larissa rehabilitation center after it failed to pay its bills? PPC may be state-owned but it's still a corporation. As for public concern, it's hard to forget the protests in various places across the country (often under the guidance of party hacks who would never disappoint their audience, reactionary as it may be) against the opening of rehabilitation centers in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, there is no sign that we will see an end to drug deaths anytime soon.

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