Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter

BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – The governor of São Paulo state, Geraldo Alckmin, said on Thursday that R$1,350 in government subsidies will be provided monthly to addiction centers to treat each individual drug users for six months. The measure is part of the state’s program to combat crack cocaine addiction, which is rife in poor areas of São Paulo, dubbed Cracolândias.

Alckmin, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Governor of São Paulo Geraldo Alckmin on Thursday launched a card granting R$1,350 per month addiction treatment, photo by Marcelo Camargo/ABr.

Every adult crack user who voluntarily enrolls in a outpatient treatment program, designed to help patients stay off drugs when out of full-time hospitalization, will be given a “Restart” card. When addicts present these cards at rehab centers and shelters, those institutions will receive a monthly payment of R$1,350 per addict.

The measure is designed so that patients can pay directly for treatment, without actually being able to access the money. The card will be valid for six months – the period deemed adequate for recovery by the state government.

“There are cases in which the addict does not need to be hospitalized, but needs support to re-establish family ties,” Governor Alckmin said. “This is an important work of therapeutic communities.”

The governor said that even admission to hospital and 45 days of detoxification does not always cure crack addiction, and that it is vital to help addicts reintegrate into society and family life with the help of outpatient programs. “We are making partnerships with civil society organizations that have a broad expertise in this area of work,” he added.

The Restart program comes months after the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro began a program of involuntary hospitalization for users.

With its long, porous border adjoining the world’s top three drug producers – Bolivia, Peru and Colombia – Brazil has historically been a transit country for drug trafficking to the U.S. and Europe.

Yet increasingly, Brazil has become a drug destination, with a Federal University of São Paulo study released last year showing that Brazil is now possibly the world’s largest market for crack-cocaine, with as many as one million users.

Last year, the federal government pledged $2 billion to tackle the growing problem.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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