22 March 2017

Interview with Fitore Cakolli from the NGO “Labyrinth”

The use of drugs and other narcotics continues to be a worrying problem for young people in Kosovo. The most affected age group is 15 to 40 years old. The number of marijuana and cocaine users is increasing, while official statistics show that there is a decline in heroin use. New drugs have entered the Kosovo market. The number of fatalities related to drug use is on the rise. One of the centers dealing with the treatment of drug users since 2008 is the Non-Governmental Organization “Labyrinth”.

The use of drugs or other narcotics is a widespread phenomenon in Kosovo. Can you tell us which age groups of the Kosovar society consume more drugs and which then ask for help in your center?

Drugs are not a new phenomenon, but have recently begun to be used publicly. Our center has been operating since 2008. Since then we have kept the personal information of each patient confidential. Regarding the age groups, according to our statistics, it turns out that in our center, the patients are usually aged between 15 to 40 years old, not excluding other cases with other ages.

Based on the statistics of the “Labyrinth” center, has the number of drug users increased or decreased from 2008 to 2014?

Everyone would like the number of users to be low. But reality shows the opposite. Our statistics show that we have an increase in the number of marijuana users. On the other hand, the number of heroin users has decreased. As for cocaine users, I can say that the number is going up. There are other narcotics that are used and which are already considered new drugs in our country, their use is also increasing by the day.

In your opinion, what are the reasons that push a person to start using narcotics?

Since we also offer sessions or personal counseling to patients, our psychologists have noticed that usually drug users are people who suffer from depression, some kind of despair, family problems, defeat or even bad social circle. On the other hand, the use of marijuana, especially by young people, in most cases is done for pleasure, or to be more “in” as they say, or to be more “trendy”.

Having mentioned that there are different types of narcotics, can you tell us which cases are considered the most difficult to cure in your center?

No case that comes to our center can be considered a tolerable case, because we are talking about human health here. However, our staff, the social workers who go out on the field, who offer first aid, encounter various problems. I, as a center psychologist, have very often encountered problems with patients who use methadone, diazepam, heroin or various mixtures of narcotics. The NGO “Labyrinth” has a register and keeps records of all deaths among registered clients. According to information available at our center, two drug users died in 2004, three in 2006, one in 2007, five in 2008 and 2009, 15 in 2010 and 16 in 2011. It is assumed that all these cases were instigated or caused by drugs.

The Medical-Psychotherapeutic Center Labyrinth was established in 2002 and deals with the prevention of drug abuse, the treatment of addiction, as well as the prevention of infections related to drug injection, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. There are three multidisciplinary centers within the NGO “Labyrinth”, the center in Prishtina and its branches in Gjilan and Prizren.

What program is used to treat patients at your center?

At our center we have the program “Harm Redaction”, which aims at damage reduction and management, where we distribute syringes, water, and alcohol wipes, to help mitigate the number of people infected with HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Our center also offers rehabilitation programs, methadone treatment programs. These programs are very effective for those who want to get rid of heroin or other narcotic substances from their system.