Thursday, July 30, 2009

A profile of a Poco drug user

A new drug named Poco is giving people in Buenos Aries, Argentina an escape from poverty. The use of Poco has flourished in a poor neighborhood just outside of the city, giving it's users an intense but short high. Many who give up on their hopes of providing for themselves or family turn to the drug for an escape.

Accompanying his story in the New York Times, reporter Alexel Barrionuevo has this video profiling on of Poco's users. An update on how he is doing follows the jump.

The story picks up on Mr. Eche reentry into rehab.

Mr. Eche was wasting away before his mother’s eyes in late May when the police picked him up for suspected paco possession. Mrs. Acuña intervened and got a judge to drop the criminal case on the condition that she would check him into yet another psychiatric hospital.

On June 14, Mr. Eche’s birthday, the family surprised him at the hospital. They ate cake on a patio with an unexpected visitor — Mr. Eche’s son, Enzo, 5, who was granted special permission to enter the hospital. Mr. Eche began crying when Enzo ran into his arms, Mrs. Acuña said.

She is thankful for small blessings. With swine flu raging through Buenos Aires, Mr. Eche’s stay at the hospital has kept him from sleeping on the streets and being at greater risk of catching the virus, she said.

In another month, Mr. Eche will have to leave the hospital. His mother said she hoped to get him into yet another treatment center, this one run by a church. “I have to have faith that he will recover,” she said. “I will raise my hopes yet again.”

Beyond the police raids, Mrs. Acuña said, politicians need to get to the root of what is causing paco’s spread. Oculta’s residents are starving for jobs with decent salaries to help break the cycle of hopelessness that is creating whole families of paco addicts and dealers, she said.

She and her husband said they hoped to find the money to turn the upper floor of their diner into an integrated drug-prevention center employing psychologists and professional counselors.

Ultimately, only Oculta can save itself, Mrs. Acuña said.

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