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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Antwerp, Belgium Is Europe’s Surprising Cocaine Capital

4 Substance


This pretty port city is not as square as it seems. Photo via

Antwerp, Belgium has a bit of a reputation as one of Europe’s tamer cities. Its name alone makes it seem like the guy at the party who drinks half-a-beer in the corner and then leaves early.

But don’t be fooled: Antwerp is no square. According to last month’s Global Drug Survey, Belgium is home to the world’s most enthusiastic cocaine users, rating the drug an average rating of 5.5/10 (compared with just 2.2/10 from Australians, who are the world’s least coke-enthused). It’s also the cheapest place in western Europe to buy the drug, says the survey, with some dealers charging as little as £40 (67$) a gram, half the European average. Also, a recent analysis of sewage samples concluded that Antwerp’s sewers contain among the highest  quantities of cocaine residue out of the 42 European cities surveyed.

Even the city’s birds are on cocaine! A recent petition imploring the government “to stop the absurd practice of doping up pigeons in order to win pigeon races” is just a few hundred shy of its 45,000 signature goal. “Pigeon-doping” apparently helps the bird breeders win big bucks in the country’s popular sport of pigeon-racing.

So why is Antwerp so cocaine-crazy? The proximity to Europe’s second-busiest port can’t hurt: The US State Department estimates that around 20 tons of blow enter there each year. And two years ago the city’s authorities seized a record eight tons of cocaine, worth around $840 million dollars, disguised in a container of bananas from Ecuador.

But some suggest that Antwerp’s prospering economy is driving the cocaine boom. Once “a city of merchants,” the pretty, “genteel” city is on the up-and-up, and becoming a more popular tourist destination in recent years. A rising middle class and a “new era of embourgeoisement” could explain why more people are partaking in the elite party drug. Or maybe it’s just something in the water…


3 comments on “Antwerp, Belgium Is Europe’s Surprising Cocaine Capital


    In the beginning of the seossin, I would allow her to explain what triggered her to use again such as stressful situation or any changes in her life. I would use nonjudgmental language and empathize with her struggles. Education regarding frequent relapse during the first three years of recovery to reduce any guilty feelings/decreased sense of control to relieve abstinence violation effect. Then I would identify where she is in the state of changes. Also assess her current knowledge about using coping skills that she previously obtained and any difficulties utilizing those skills in real life situations (I assume that I have already had a seossin about relapse prevention before she relapsed…). I would re-educate her about relapse prevention and dynamic of relapse model and help identify any high risk situations that could contribute to increase relapse potential. Revise the treatment plan to identify new goals frequency of seossins to meet her needs.


    When my client renrtus for her appointment after relapse I would be fully present with her, spending about half of the session in a nonjudgemental dialogue about the many short and long term issues that she sees as important to the relapse. The tone would be one of compassion and support but also personal accountability and do-able positive motion. I would challenge any ideas that are not rational using CBT one-on-one counseling techniques. The second half of the session I would move to shift the focus of our thinking to an action plan to support her abstinence until our next session. I would guide her to formulate a realistic plan for success and we would write this down on a piece of paper and sign that she and I would have for our next meeting.(Pat H that is the pink cloud you were mentioning as the early recovery high folks get)


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