Apr 28, 2010

Pressure to arbitrarily hospitalize crack users in Brazil

A psychiatrist was fired from his post of coordinator after refusing to arbitrarily hospitalize crack-cocaine users in São Paulo, Brazil.

Local government authorities substituted actions with health and social workers (outreach work, harm reduction based) that where trying hard to evaluate, help and offer treatment to crack users in the streets of São Paulo to police work. Policeman with no special formation to work with drug users were assigned to "collect" crack users in the streets of São Paulo and send them to outpatient treatment units for evaluation.

The psychiatrist explains in the reportage that all crack users, most of them minors, were carefully evaluated, but as most of them did not met any clinical criteria for hospitalization in psychiatric hospitals, they were not hospitalized. Soon after that the Psychiatrist was fired from the coordination of this addiction unit.

Government authorities did not want to comment those allegations.


The spread of crack use in Brazil has been generating all sorts of "desperate measures" form society and local governments. Media campaigns based on fear and threat, actions and protests from "specialists"condemning National government policies to be too soft. For some "specialists"and badly informed members of society, hospitalization, and specially authorization of arbitrary/mandatory hospitalization is the only solution. Those groups are pressuring the government to adopt tough measures.

At present the official guidance of the national government is to follow the line of harm reduction. Avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and privilege outpatient treatment. Specialized outpatient treatment units (CAPS) were created all over Brazil. Multidisciplinary teams work intensively with most severe cases of addiction, but still respecting patients rights in a more client-centered directive. More teams need to be trained and more facilities like that need to be created in order to properly address the problem. Hospitalization is not the solution and drug users rights need to be respected always.

Read more posts about the crack issue in Brazil.

Source: G1

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