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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Drogues : les jeunes accros de plus en plus tôt

by Laurent Mouloud


Translated Saturday 26 July 2008, by Shelagh Rothero

Health - the Inter-Ministerial Mission for the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction (MILDT) has recently presented a plan of campaign for 2008-2011 with the main aim being to discourage young adolescents from embarking on the downward slope of alcohol and drug abuse.

The main aim of this recently announced governmental campaign for 2008-2011 is to prevent the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol among young adolescents. "We now understand that the drug problem is here to stay", stresses Étienne Apaire, president of MILDT. "The plan aims to provide our society with the strength to say ‘no’ ". With a budget of 87.5 million euros over four years, in addition to funds set aside by various ministers for this purpose, some two hundred measures and recommendations have been put forward, with particular emphasis on prevention. Adolescents are to be the first target.

200,000 cannabis growers
MILDT observes that a reduction in the average age of experimentation with different psychoactive substances (age eleven, for alcohol, twelve for smoking, fourteen-fifteen for cannabis) is one of the most worrying recent trends, all the more so since it has now been established that earlier experimentation can lead to more serious subsequent risks.

Another problem to make a recent appearance on the scene is that of alcohol abuse - notably among students - with the recent craze for ‘binge drinking’ (an Anglo-Saxon custom which consists of getting blind drunk as fast as possible). And the solution? - to re-inforce the laws preventing the sale of alcohol to anyone under eighteen years of age and to ban ‘open bars’ where entry is paid up front in exchange for unlimited supplies of drink. Another idea would be to prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public places and within a certain radius of educational establishments.

In the case of cannabis, MILDT is not proposing to change the 1970 law as appeared to be the suggestion of Nicolas Sarkozy when he was Minister of the Interior. They plan to set up courses on the dangers of narcotics (with the law maintaining a low profile) and to make use of the latest developments in technology (aerial detection, infrared equipment, sound amplifiers) in the fight against the illegal cultivation of cannabis. In France there are almost 200,000 cannabis growers who between them produce almost 32 tonnes of cannabis per year. This represents more than 10% of the total amount consumed in that country. MILDT anticipates that the number of adolescents benefitting from these ‘cannabis consultations’ will increase three-fold, from 40,000 to 120,000.

The increase in cocaine abuse
With the intention of tightening control, the campaign will keep a close eye on the internet marketing of psychotropic drugs and other products known to have narcotic properties. It expects to increase the seizure and confiscation of illegal drugs, notably by bilateral agreement. "In spite of important developments within the legal system, the amount of narcotics confiscated, as a ratio of the amount used, in France remains significantly lower than that of our European partners," deplores MILDT. Regarding care and social inclusion, MILDT would like to increase the amount of accommodation available by the creating new therapeutic communities and by adopting new methods of identifying the ever-increasing number of cocaine abusers.

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