Czech Republic becomes EU crystal meth capital
All across Europe tens of thousands are taking methamphetamines in clubs; methamphetamines made in the Czech Republic, an EU member since 2004. According to surveys, out of every twenty doses of the drug consumed in Europe, nineteen are produced here.
Locals call it pervetin – otherwise known as methamphetamine or crystal meth.
“We've had a tradition of methamphetamine production, but since we now have open borders with Europe, it has blown up. We are exporting it everywhere. It is our number one drug problem,” Jakub Frydrych, the head of the Anti-Drug Police, says.
Crystal meth gives users seemingly endless energy and a sense of carefree euphoria – making it a popular choice in club culture. And it's one of the easiest drugs to purchase.
A gram of pervetin costs less than €40. A night on the drug can be cheaper than drinking alcohol.
But this isn't just a problem that affects casual users living the high life.
Katerina Bradacova has used pervetin since she was fourteen. As a long-time addict, she injects it – for a more powerful hit.
“I can easily buy pervetin directly from the producers. I have to inject it three times a day. Without it I can't even talk coherently. Two years ago my daughter was born. Before, nothing worried me, but now it's psychologically difficult for me. I am falling deeper and deeper,” Bradacova confesses.
Her clinic's lead doctor – drug addiction specialist Ivan Douda – treated his first meth addict more than forty years ago. But he says the rapid commercialization of amphetamines is increasing its availability and quality.
“Twenty years ago it was private and there was no money in it. But now it's also business. Our clients share flats, chemicals and then share the results,” Douda says.
Corporal Andreas Nightingale and his emergency response unit see the true face of the problem at the street level. Here the addicts are at their lowest.
Czech Pervetin users are behind forty per cent of crimes committed by people on drugs – including theft, burglary and rape.
“The situation is getting much worse. We are winning some days, they are winning some days. We are definitely not giving up,” Nightingale says.
However, the Czech Republic is losing the drugs war and taking the rest of Europe down with it.