Economic Recovery and Drug Recovery: Greece’s Newest Drug Craze

Economic Recovery and Drug Recovery Greece’s Newest Drug Craze

Hit hardest by the European economic crisis, Greek citizens have fallen into the various traps that chronic low wages and unemployment create, including drug addiction. Because class and income are often factors in drug addiction, Greece’s economic recovery may be the country’s only route to effective drug recovery as well.

But what do people who can’t even afford main market drugs like heroin and cocaine abuse? The answer is shisha, a modified form of crystal meth often mixed with substances such as battery acid and engine oil. The Guardian reported on the drug’s popularity among the unemployed and homeless in Greece, where the youth-unemployment rate now stands at 64 percent, and the effects of a drug that causes uncontrollable violence and rage in the user.

The tempers that flare in a shisha user can also be seen as the user raging against his country’s economic downturn; as the head of Greece’s anti-drug centre Kethea, Charalampos Poulopoulos told The Guardian, “shisha symbolises the depredations of a crisis that has spawned record levels of destitution and unemployment.” With hardly any wages to make, the people of Greece feel hateful, and so are turning to a drug whose physical and mental effects heighten this rage.

The increase in drug use of shisha and otherwise also speaks to the connection of hopelessness and drug abuse—if there seems to be nothing at the other end of drug recovery and a drug addiction centre, then what’s the point someone might ask.

“For those who have quit drugs there is now no incentive. Instead, there’s an atmosphere of misery where people knowing they won’t find work are becoming a lot more self-destructive. In Athens, where the economic crisis has hit the hardest, shisha is part of that,” says Poulopoulos.

Greece’s struggle with shisha demonstrates the idea that addiction to drugs, and a country’s response in the form of drug addiction centres, is contingent upon factors both local and national.