Budapest residents terrified by drug addicts

A drug epidemic in a Budapest could trigger a national emergency yet the local government’s only response is to jail addicts.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Budapest residents terrified by drug addicts - NewsMavens
Smoking. Pexels.

Why this story matters:

“The next season of the Walking Dead could be filmed in my neighbourhood: there would be no need to hire extras to play the zombies. The addicts living there could play them” -- this is how someone living in Budapest's 10th district described the drug epidemic in her neighborhood to me.

According to local residents, in recent months there has been an increase in drug addicts in the area. Earlier they could mainly be found in the nearby ghetto of Hős street but since the police increased its presence there, addicts moved to the 10th district.

Most of the drug addicts get high by smoking tobacco soaked in acetone. It is relatively cheap and kicks in quickly. The users wander around in a daze -- this is why locals describe these addicts as "zombies".

Local residents are becoming more and more concerned, especially those with small children. Addicts often get high in bus stops and at play grounds. It is not rare to see parks in the district littered with used needles.

The local government’s response, however, is not a real solution to the problem -- it is urging the interior minister to enable them to jail the addicts on the grounds of their behaviour “being contrary to accepted principles of morality”. It is hardly a surprise since the government has never prioritized drug policy and has always criminalized addicts rather than working on comprehensive solutions.

Experts who deal with addicts think that an increase in drug-prevention programmes in schools, and the establishment of “supervised rooms”, where addicts could use previously tested drugs in a safe and clean environment, could be more effective.

Details from the story:

  • According to a local source, in the ghetto of Hős street there are still around 20-25 families that produce the cigarettes soaked in acetone. There are, however, many others who use intravenous drugs. 
  • According to the Kontúr Association, an NGO, people in ghettos do not use drugs out of pleasure “but to escape from the unbearable everyday life. It is a way to escape from reality and their suffering”. 
  • Csaba Somlyódi, a local socialist politician told the newspaper Népszava that poor residents are not the only ones affected by this addiction, “there are several well-dressed youngsters” among the addicts.
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