“A loose brochure is useless.” “Those responsible for this campaign encourage consumption.” “They are criminals, they play with our children.” The rants unleashed against the risk prevention campaign against the consumption of psychoactive substances implemented by the municipality of Morón, which was made public when it was presented this weekend within the framework of the Minga Festival -of electronic music and rock bands-, opened the debate. And in an orchestrated way the opposition political arc in front of everyone attacked the health strategya from the municipality governed by Lucas Ghi, from the FdT, on behalf of Nuevo Encuentro. Campaign implemented according to an ordinance promulgated unanimously in its Legislative Council in 2021.
Specialists in problem drug use, however, agree that prevention opens the dialogue with consumers. in tune with what happens in other parts of the worldwhere consumption is not hidden under the patina of ignorance of the problemmaintain that Giving information prevents and helps combat the risk of excesses whose final scenario is usually tragic, having death as its destiny.
A report by the Argentine Drug Observatory estimates that in 2018 there were 13,340 deaths in Argentina attributable, partially or totally, to drug use. “This represents 16.3% of deaths in people between 15 and 64 years old” details Martín Latorraca, Secretary of Health of Morón, consulted by this newspaper. A 2017 study on substance use by Sedronar “revealed that 1.5% of the population declared cocaine use in that year. And just like with marijuana, between 18 and 24 years old, the highest consumption rates are found”, adds Latorraca.
The ostrich technique
It seems that hiding your head in the face of the problem, in the image and likeness of the ostrich in the face of danger, is the best thing that comes to mind for the political spokesmen of the opposition who are not health specialists or specialists in the matter. But they came out synchronously to condemn the initiative: “A boy who uses paco or cocaine, at 15, 17 years old, cannot responsibly decide how far he is going to consume. You can talk about it with any mother of an addict, it is not true”, criticized María Eugenia Vidal. “It is serious because the State has to prevent, care for the health of young people, and on the other hand combat consumption, not encourage it,” added Diego Santilli.
The statements are contrary to what is stated by the specialists. Graciela Touze, head of the civil association Intercambios, professor and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences, maintains that “the meaning of the campaign is correct and the brochure corresponds to the type of complementary material to an informative action where it is clearly indicated that It is a material intended for people who are going to consume. She says: ‘If you’re going to consume, keep these tips in mind…’. For which the controversy is a script of the absurd. The researcher warns: “Society is prepared for the debate, and if not, doubly it must be given, because it is like saying that we were not prepared for the IVE or same-sex marriage, or in the ’80s for divorce.” And she argues: “Believing that because you give ESI (Comprehensive Sexual Education) the boys are going to run out to have sex, is not consistent with reality.”
in his book Prevention of problematic drug use, an educational approach, Touze seeks to guide adults who work with students so that they inform not from a moralistic and prescriptive perspective, but rather in care practices and critical reflection. To prevent you have to inform. Open up to dialogue. Have “an empathetic listening” in the words of Ghi, who explained that the action carried out in this festival included a stand with specialized personnel in the pedagogical exchange with those who requested information and to whom the informative brochure was delivered. “It is not the intention to promote consumption” Ghi holds. And he stresses that the flyers are part of an intervention strategy that stems from an ordinance that establishes the need to use activities with significant participation of the population in a potential risk situation to provide information.
The campaign, sponsored by an advisory council made up of academics and health professionals, proposes “trying out a different mode of intervention than the model that has been worked on and that has not provided good results so far.” “That’s why we speak clearly – he details – and we say: ‘If you are going to consume do not forget to take these tips into account, so that your decision is endowed with as many elements of judgment as possible‘”.
The problems are with legal and illegal drugs, adds Latorraca. “The approach is in both instances and among the legal ones, the biggest problem is alcohol”. It works jointly with Sedronar and with the Addiction Prevention Centers (CPA) of the province of Buenos Aires and with headquarters “in places like Carlos Gardel and Morón Sur, where we have more vulnerable populations.” There is training of health personnel, and intensive workshops on risk prevention.
“This municipality had the courage to implement a public policy in relation to what is happening in the world,” defines Gustavo Zbuczynski, president of the Argentine Damage Reduction Association (ARDA), which advises Morón in this campaign. And to any public or private entity that wants to have information on risk prevention in this area, for 20 years. “We four crazy people did not go out to raise this – he emphasizes -, because These are preventive actions that are practiced worldwide. What happens is that here, the discussion is delayed, we are arguing with dinosaurs”.
A scandalized Ricardo López Murphy stated in this regard: “Moron’s Kirchnerism recommends that young people ‘consume a little cocaine to see how the body reacts.’ They are complicit in the growth of drug trafficking. They prefer young drugged people who don’t think”. Waldo Wolff threatened criminal action for “incitement and apology for drugs”: “Incredibly, the Municipality of Morón is advising young people how to get high better. They are criminals who play with our children, ”he denounced. But the municipality until yesterday had not been notified of any legal action against him on the subject.
“I’m surprised that we continue to have the same criticism of the ’90s,” Zbuczynski warned about it. And he could not fail to point out the political bias of the attack: “There are political sectors that are 50 years behind. Today they make the same criticism as when we proposed changing drug policies that were already showing their failure and in public debates the criticism was from the most extreme moralism and conservatism, ”he laments.
This conservative position, experts maintain, only enhances the ignorance of the vulnerable population about the problem that surrounds them. In this sense, Morón took the opposite path: “Speak, question the consumer, dialogue” says Ghi. For the community chief of Morón, the premise is clear: “the current paradigm of persecution, stigmatization and imprisonment of those who consume or experience problematic consumption has not worked. The State has to give other types of responses and execute socio-sanitary devices to generate listening, empathy, observe the social and cultural determinants that lead that person to consume. Enough of criminal prosecution as the only approach strategy” judgment.
“The persecution of the consumer does not work” Touze agrees. “Why then is the first thing to be horrified at this change in strategy?” he wonders. “From a public health perspective, seek that this consumption does not generate major problems. and above all preserve life, protect that, if someone develops a risk practice, and of course the use of substances is, from public health the first thing is to try to manage those risks, manage them better, reduce them “. For this, it is key to have reliable information, says the specialist. And it is not a matter of will: “Telling someone not to do this is not enough.” Less if the explanation ends in the mere prescription of “do not do it because it is prohibited”. The containment and prevention policies already tested in other places of the world propose an alternative and complementary path: “discarding it is foolish and harmful”he concludes.