Cablegate: Frankfurt's Model Drug Abuse Treatment Program

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

240741Z Mar 04




E.O. 12958: N/A



1. In just a decade, Frankfurt has evolved from being
Germany's drug capital to a city that uses an innovative and
widely-praised initiative to treat and rehabilitate addicts.
In meetings with Pol/Econ reps, police and city officials
report new challenges, namely dealing with crack use and
coping with substantial budget cuts at the state level.
Police also note significant drug use among the city's large
immigrant population (almost 28 percent of Frankfurt
residents do not hold a German passport). Post is working
on a separate cable to address Frankfurt's role as a major
transit point for ecstasy entering the U.S. market. End

Frankfurt Uses Old Method to Fight New Foe

2. The city of Frankfurt gained worldwide recognition in
the 1990s for an integrated anti-narcotics approach that
emphasizes treatment and rehabilitation. Officials
established "fixer rooms" within the city where addicts
could use clean needles (under medical supervision) without
fear of arrest. Those participating in the voluntary
program receive free counseling and job training, and
doctors provide methadone replacement therapy for users
trying to shake their heroin addiction. Other health
services include needle exchange and condom distribution.
The city's efforts were successful, with the number of
registered drug addicts in Frankfurt declining 38 percent in
five years (from 5,039 in 1993 to 3,138 in 1998). Drug-
related deaths dropped from 108 in 1990 to 30 a decade
later. Cities around the world (including Vancouver)
modeled their anti-narcotics initiatives on the Frankfurt

3. As the nineties drew to a close, however, overall drug
use in Frankfurt began to climb because of increased crack
cocaine consumption, rising to 4,044 registered drug addicts
in 2002 (the last year for which statistics were available).
Confiscation of narcotics by the police suggest an increased
availability of cocaine -- according to Frankfurt Police
Head for Anti-Drug Operations Werner Roth, city law
enforcement confiscated 60 kilograms of cocaine in 2002,
double the amount seized in 1998. Authorities confiscated
four kg of crack in 2002, up from 2.6 kg in 1998.
Meanwhile, Roth noted a considerable decline in the supply
of heroin, with only 25 kg confiscated in 2002 (as opposed
to 73 kg in 1998). Crack users also indulged in their
addiction more frequently, with 71 percent of crack addicts
surveyed in a 2002 Frankfurt study using the drug at least
once daily.

4. Despite the lack of effective replacement therapy and a
higher propensity for violence among crack users, Frankfurt
Drug Office Deputy Chief Juergen Weimer reports some success
in the city's efforts to stem crack use. Adopting the same
treatment-based approach used for heroin addicts, he notes
that the percentage of patients remaining clean after
rehabilitation has risen to 45 percent. Weimer also asserts
that key statistics (including number of drug users and
amount of drug-related deaths) in Frankfurt have leveled out
since 2002.

State Budget Cuts Curtail Parts of Frankfurt Program
--------------------------------------------- --------

5. Sharp reductions in the amount of state assistance to
Frankfurt threaten to curtail the city's treatment-based
approach. Hesse's 2004 budget cuts support for drug
assistance programs by approximately 33 percent, a decrease
that threatens counseling and treatment centers targeting
youth. Frankfurt depends upon state support to maintain
these facilities, and the reduction in funding may force
several to close.

Drug Use Among Frankfurt's Immigrants on the Rise
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. Frankfurt police also express concern over the rising
use of drugs among the city's immigrant population,
especially among ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union
(Russo-Germans). Although no statistics measuring the
extent of drug use among this group (they are listed as
"German" because of their ethnic heritage) exist, police
contend it is widespread. Hesse's budget cuts will force
several centers in an area with a high Russo-German
population to close, potentially further aggravating the
problem (reftel). Police advocate closer coordination with
immigration officials and a political recognition of the
link between immigration and drugs.


7. Frankfurt's international character and geographic
location have long made it a popular staging area for new
trends in narcotics use. The city's treatment-based
approach to deal with heroin addiction reaped substantial
dividends in the 1990s, but authorities are struggling to
fine-tune their approach to deal with new challenges. The
increasing prominence of crack cocaine, rising drug use
among immigrants, and the advent of designer drugs like
ecstasy (septel) could threaten the effectiveness of a
system stretched thin by recent budget cuts. End comment.

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