Opiates in Spain


David Pere Martínez Oró

Funded by:

Delegación del Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas. Convocatoria del Fondo de Bienes de Decomisados, resolución de 16 de agosto de 2017.

Spain is not suffering any heroin spike. Nor will it suffer an opioid health crisis comparable to that of the United States. All the indicators relating to heroin consumption rule out any upturn. Prevalence of use, hospital emergencies due to acute reaction, mortality, treatment demand, administrative sanctions for possession or use in public places and arrests for retail sales are stable or tending to fall. Some of these indicators refer to 2015 or 2016, although through fieldwork and complementary documents we can affirm that the trend is similar in the years that follow. We do not have any solvent evidence that allows us to affirm that the prevalences of consumption, nor the other indicators, will increase in the coming years. Consequently, Spain is far from experiencing an upturn in heroin or any other problematic situation resulting from opioid abuse. Moreover, heroin cannot “come back” because it never left, it remained invisible in the eyes of public opinion, but present in marginal contexts.

Spain in the field of opioids faces multiple socio-health challenges. The scenarios that require attention and socio-political responses are five: fentanyl trends, the situation of the consumer population, the fear of the alleged rebound, the scenario of opioid drugs and the phenomenon of “narcopisos”. Young people far removed from the world of heroin will never be attracted to it, as long as the social representation associating the substance with addiction and death remains in the collective memory. In addition, the psychoactive pool available on the Spanish market offers a multitude of substances; as long as this remains the case, nothing will precipitate young people to seek the heroic effects. In the field of opioids, the national health system and all the implications emanating from it function as a protection mechanism from any hypothetical crisis. And, in the event that the various opioids start to cause problems, Spain has a quality healthcare network that would quickly and effectively cushion the ravages of the new scenario.