Meth Addiction Among Czech Children Skyrocketing

By Paul Gaita 06/29/15

Meth, or Pervitin, has been wreaking havoc across the central European nation for over a decade.

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The Czech Republic’s reputation as a crystal meth hotbed is more than just a storyline on Breaking Bad.

The central European country has experienced an increase in both production and consumption of meth for the better part of the last decade, thanks in part to an abundance of available chemicals and production facilities left intact since World War II.

As a result, addiction to meth—or Pervitin, as it’s known within Czech borders—has become a consistent and pervasive problem, with some 70% of all drug users seeking clinical treatment for its effects.

Among that percentage are an astonishing number of children and teenagers, but as a recent report from Prague’s daily newspaper Právo noted, the country is encountering significant challenges to providing treatment for these younger patients.

There is only one detox center for young people in the Czech Republic, located at a Prague hospital. The facility has just 14 beds available for in-patient treatment, and last provided medical care for 848 patients, with 257 children occupying the 14 beds in alternating 12-day periods.

The facility is funded by reallocating money from other departments in the hospital it occupies; as a result, the center has amassed a debt of up to 4 million Kc, or approximately $164,748 USD.

“We are facing the tremendous problem that the children take Pervitin that is also used by both of their parents, [and] there is no therapy for the whole families of addicts,” said head doctor Marian Koranda. “The therapy must often be repeated. A 16-year-old girl managed to get rid of her addiction [after her] fourth try here.”

Health insurance companies cannot provide sufficient financing for any drug facility in the Czech Republic, while addiction rates to meth there have reportedly reached 100%. “We do not know what to do,” said Koranda.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.