Not every tourist has an appetite for fun and adventure to explore new places, sample new cuisine, unravel new culture and to mingle with people from diverse backgrounds. Some of them land up in certain places with covert plans, ulterior motives, other than just traveling. There is also an uncherished side to tourism that is not palpable at the exterior – drug tourism.
Even though no country or state would take pride in selling itself as a perfect destination for addicts, the fact is many people turn globe-trotters just to fulfill their desire for a particular type of drug, which is considered the specialty of some destinations. As part of drug tourism, people travel for the purpose of obtaining or using drugs for recreational or medicinal use. This kind of tourism has been thriving since early times with people traveling in a quest to satiate their addiction.
Danger and risks in a foreign land do not deter addicts from going ahead with their pursuit. Many have had to spend years behind bars for their run-ins with the law, or in some case even pay with their lives. Still, every year scores of addicts, in the garb of tourists, enter these veritable dens of drugs on the trail of their addiction.
Here, we explore four such places which attract hordes of addicts to their shores:
California: Before embarking on an interesting journey and following a dangerous drug trajectory, it makes sense to know more about what is happening in one’s own backyard. Known to allow setting up the first pot shops in the United States, California is considered a haven for addicts who want to smoke away in open. It is just a “ticketable offense.” There is a regular stream of visitors to the place to enjoy the freedom of smoking pot out in the open and walking scot-free. California is touted as one of the top destinations as far as drug tourism is concerned. Amsterdam: There is more to Amsterdam than just the beautiful architecture, idyllic canals, captivating sights, wonderful climate and a host of travel worthy hotspots. For years, the capital city of the Netherlands has been luring addicts who flock in droves to smoke their weed gleefully, without an iota of concern of getting caught. Right from weed and truffles to other hallucinogenic products, like herbal teas and peyote cactus, to get a high without breaking the law, Amsterdam proves to be a dream destination for addicts who want to get away from the prying eyes of agencies in their own countries. Portugal: This southern European country is also a destination of choice for addicts because of its lenient approach to drug crimes. The country had decriminalized small amount of drugs a decade ago and this did not lead to HIV or overdose deaths in the country. The needle exchange and opioid substitution programs have helped reduce overdose and addiction. Tourists who are also addicts swarm this place because of its policies like not considering drug supply up to 10 days as a criminal offense. Uruguay: This South American country is popular among addicts. Possession of drugs for personal use is not a crime in Uruguay. Although tourists are excluded from it, the country is toying with an idea of government-run marijuana programs. However, cocaine paste, which is an intermediary stage in cocaine preparation, has led to an upsurge of addiction problem in the country.
Substance use can be life-threatening if not intervened at the right juncture. However, with a little commitment to the treatment, addiction can be controlled and one can gain long-term sobriety.