In February the Spanish Cabinet approved a National Addiction Strategy which includes new technologies, online games and video games as types of addiction for the first time. The first stage of this plan has been to tackle what are known as substance-less addictions, which are prevalent among Spanish teenagers.
According to figures from the government, one in ten young people between the ages of 14 and 18 in Spain admit to having gambled online and 18 per cent admit to having abused new technologies. Staff at Horizonte Proyecto Hombre Marbella have spent years trying to solve these problems. The director of the association, Jaime Álvarez, highlights that his organisation increasingly doesn't just work with drug addicts, but also provides the necessary resources for people who are hooked on other things to retake control of their lives.
“Addiction to technology isn't a new phenomenon. It started several years ago but it is steadily growing. We only have to look at reports from the National Plan for Drugs to realise that. At Horizonte Proyecto Hombre we are increasingly dealing with young people with addictions to video games, mobile phones and the internet, while other people have different types of problem which often follow a more classic path,” explains the association's director. “The Marbella community needs to know that Horizonte Proyecto Hombre caters for addictions in all senses of the word and not just conventional drug addiction.”
Among the range of programmes that they offer, one in particular caters for teenagers, young people between the ages of 13 and 18 years, who have fallen victim to a substance-less addiction: video games, tablets, mobile phones, social networks, online gambling or any other type of addictive behaviour. As well as offering an educational and therapeutic programme, they also offer preventative measures to those who they deem to be at risk of addiction or considering using any type of drug. Last year 29 young people participated in the programme.
“We see children who don't accept the authority of their parents, they live without rules and they perform poorly at school. The result is that they begin to start drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco and cannabis, which tend to be the first substances to which they have easy access,” explains Álvarez.
The organisation held a gala dinner on Friday 13 April at the Hotel Fuerte in Marbella to raise funds for Horizonte's programmes, which the organisation offers for free.