By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The government’s campaign to curb crack cocaine use that was launched late last year is failing to deliver on its targets. As of the start 2013, the program Entitled ‘Crack, É Possível Vencer’, which aims to treat crack addiction through the combined effort of four separate government departments, can only count half of Brazil’s states as members.

An operation in Rio last year to offer relief to crack users, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
An operation by the Municipal Social Welfare (SMAS) in Rio last year to offer relief to crack users, photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.

The predicted cost to the federal government will be R$4 billion by 2014. At the end of 2012 the program was being implemented by 13 of 27 states who had R$1.35 billion at their disposal.

The initiative hopes to treat addiction in three stages; care, prevention and authority. The implementation of the first stage, which is under the jurisdiction of Brazil’s Ministry of Health, has so far cost R$840 million. However the return from this investment is lagging behind government targets.

Foremost among them was the hope that the 128 ‘alcohol and drug psychological care centers’ (Caps-AD) currently in operation would be open 24 hours a day. However as of the start of 2013, only 37 of the centers were running around the clock.

However Helvécio Magalhães, Brazil’s minister of health defended the figure by noting that the number of drug addicts utilizing the Caps-AD had increased by 1.6 million over the course of last year.

Progress towards other objectives is also moving slowly. The program aims to have created an extra 2,460 beds in specialized infirmaries by 2014, with a further 1,140 existing beds being re-allocated for the program. Yet as of December last year, only 124 vacancies were available in such infirmaries, with the possibility of creating just a further 557 under the current budget.

A further objective is to create 430 shelters for drug addicts by 2014, however only an additional fifteen have been created so far, bringing the total to 37. Each shelter has space for ten to fifteen people.

The program is a joint endeavor between the federal ministries of Health, Justice, Education and Social Development.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


  1. It is so easy to get drugs into Brazil. Thousands of kilometers of borders to Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina… It will remain a tough battle to fight crack.


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