Alcohol, the legal 'gateway' to other addictions

  • In 2018 alcohol was the main cause of people applying to join the Proyecto Hombre detox programmes

Addictions almost never occur on their own. Their victims are people with an "addictive neurobiological profile," says Carlos Sánchez. Rather than the increasingly popular opinion that these patients are to blame for their situation, scientific research has shown that addiction is a mental illness.

And that 'staircase' of addictions is more terrifying the higher you go up. Drinks and flirting with marijuana are considered a preliminary step. Many people go no further but some do, on to devastating drugs, in the same way that the first coin in a slot machine can later result in huge debts with the ability to destroy an addict's life.

"Alcohol is socially accepted, to the extent that if somebody doesn't drink there will always be people egging them on to 'have a small one'. Although that seems innocuous, for addicts it is a dangerous risk factor because they lose control," says Amaia Escalza.

The battle to break the vicious circle which leads to drug consumption is particularly hard in the summer, when social contacts multiply: "Those around the addict don't understand why he or she doesn't want a drink, or to go out for a meal like they did before, and that creates a high risk of them giving in and then relapsing, when they are on their own and after they have had a drink".

In 2018, alcohol was the main cause of people applying to join the Proyecto Hombre detox programmes: 37.3 per cent of the total. Although there are still requests for treatment and information, alcohol consumption has dropped in recent years compared with the rise in cocaine, where the requests for therapy have risen almost ten points in the past five years, to 35 per cent.

During the same period, the requests for help due to alcohol addiction dropped by one percentage point.