Drug Rehabs in San Juan, PR

As a major Caribbean seaport, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is overflowing with illegal substances, and the recent Hurricane Maria has only has restricted access to resources for recovery centers and other organizations.

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Drug And Alcohol Addiction in San Juan, Puerto Rico

As a major seaport between Latin America and the continental United States, San Juan is exposed to many issues concerning substance abuse. Drug use in the city is high, affecting about 1 in 6 adults in the population. The availability of drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, and Marijuana in San Juan is high, and drug trafficking into and through the area is common. Heroin abuse is particularly high in Puerto Rico due to the availability of high purity South American Heroin. Additionally, alcohol use disorders (AUD) are especially high throughout the city amongst men and women.

While there is a lack of public health treatment and detox centers in Puerto Rico, mostly due to a shrinking economy, there are some options. Iniciativa Comunitaria and the Salvation Army-Suena La Esperanza are free or low-budget harm-reduction treatment centers available to the public. Various faith-based groups from mainland America also visit the island to offer aid, but those considering treatment options may considering traveling to mainland America.

Drug Trafficking In San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico is a major center for drug trafficking. Cocaine and Heroin are the 2 controlled substances which traffickers most often smuggle through Puerto Rico to the United States mainland. The Puerto Rican government has estimated that only 10% of illegal drugs which traffickers bring into Puerto Rico remain on the island. Nevertheless, drug traffickers collect about $366 million in revenue every year from selling drugs in San Juan and throughout Puerto Rico, according to the government.

The Puerto Rican Police Department regularly collaborates with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Border Patrol to arrest drug traffickers in San Juan and confiscate their illegal products. In 2018, authorities arrested 97 San Juan residents for conspiracy to distribute Cocaine, Heroin, synthetic Opioids, and Marijuana. In 2017, Puerto Rico police confiscated almost 66,000 pounds of Cocaine worth $100 million in Puerto Rico. Many traffickers bring drugs into San Juan on small boats which often depart from Venezuela.  In fact, in 2018, Puerto Rican police seized 1,300 pounds of Cocaine valued at $15.6 million from a single fishing boat.

Heroin And Opioids In San Juan

There are many Puerto Ricans in San Juan who are addicted to Opioids, many of which are illegally manufactured and distributed. Many people who become addicted to Opioids also try Heroin, a highly dangerous Opioid which is exacting a heavy toll on many lives in San Juan. In 2016, 72 Puerto Ricans suffered a fatal Opioid overdose. In 2017, 68 people in Puerto Rico lost their lives to Fentanyl, an Opioid which is even more lethal than Heroin and is often laced into other drugs. Fentanyl claimed 40 lives in Puerto Rico within the first 5 months of 2018. Many San Juan residents are also struggling with addiction to other Opioids, such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.

Substance Abuse And Violence In San Juan

Drug abuse destroys lives wherever it takes place, but illegal drugs have brought armed violence into San Juan along with fatal overdoses. In 2017, 169 people were murdered in San Juan. The Mayor of San Juan stated in 2018 that drug trafficking is the cause of many homicides in her city. Many Puerto Ricans who are involved in drug trafficking are under the age of 18 and live in poverty. These circumstances make those under the age of 18 more vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Sexual violence is also a major factor in the substance abuse crisis in Puerto Rico, especially among women. Sociologists from the US Department of Health and Human Services estimate that 73% of Puerto Rican women who are addicted to illegal drugs have suffered some form of sexual abuse, often from members of their own families.

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Substance Abuse After Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico suffered the worst natural disaster in its history when the Category 5 Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017. The hurricane destroyed thousands of homes, completely disabled electricity throughout Puerto Rico, and destroyed millions of dollars worth of agriculture. Researchers estimate that about 5,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria and the subsequent humanitarian crisis. This crisis lasted for months while authorities worked to reopen transportation, rebuild infrastructure, and restore the power grid.

For Puerto Ricans who are addicted to illegal drugs, the effects of Hurricane Maria have been especially devastating. Non-profit organizations which provide medical treatment and counseling services to San Juan residents who are addicted to Opioids and Heroin have lost access to important financial resources. The groups struggle to reach the people they hope to help. Some “harm reduction” organizations in San Juan are distributing clean syringes to drug users to make sure that they do not contract diseases from dirty needles. Although humanitarian groups are working hard to help addicted Puerto Ricans, the hurricane has caused the prices of illegal drugs to rise in San Juan. Now, many people with a substance use disorder (SUD) spend all the money they can obtain from begging to buy drugs and avoid withdrawal. Hurricane Maria has caused all Puerto Ricans to suffer, but those with a SUD who already lived in poverty before the hurricane have become even more desperate and vulnerable in the post-Maria era.

Finding Help In San Juan

For people in San Juan who are struggling to overcome addiction and substance abuse, the situation can be dire. Drug abuse and violence are serious problems in the city, but fortunately, anyone can reclaim their life from addiction with treatment. Contact a treatment provider today to get more information on how to start the recovery process.



Nathan Yerby

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  • Nathan Yerby is a writer and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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Government Programs

Find local government programs that promote sober living and will help you find peace in your day to day life.

Name Location Phone
Area 77: Puerto Rico Carr. 189 1 A4
Caguas Puerto Rico

College Programs

DCODE ( Department of Counseling for Student Development)

University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

PO Box 23137
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-3137

DCODE ( Department of Counseling for Student Development)

University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

PO Box 23137
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-3137

The Psychological Services Clinic of the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music

951 Ponce de Leon Avenue
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907-3373

Guidance and Counseling

Universidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico

377 Ponce De Leon Avenue
San Juan, 00918

Counseling Services

Atlantic University College

9 Calle George L Colton
Guaynabo, 00969, Puerto Rico

Counseling Services

University of Puerto Rico-Carolina

Carretera 887 Bo San Anton
Carolina, PR 00984-4800

Other Cities in Puerto Rico

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