Alcoholism & Drug Addiction

© iStock photo Get help to give up smoking, drugs or alcohol.
Get help to give up smoking, drugs or alcohol.

Alcoholism & Drug Addiction

By Dee McMath

As in most other regions of the Europe, alcoholism and drug abuse are growing problems in Andalucia. With the increase in weekend binge drinking amongst young people in most main cities, the rise in consumption of alcohol is becoming a major concern for families, as well as the authorities. Crowds of young people take to the streets of many Andalucian towns and drink alcohol from the bottle or from plastic glasses. This regular street-party life is known as 'el botellon' or 'la movida'. Apart from the obvious social problems of security and noise levels, the side effects of this level of alcohol and related drug intake is leaving its legacy of serious addiction and health problems in its wake.

Rehabilitation Centres

There are many alcohol and drug rehabilitation centres in Andalucia, where people of all ages can seek help and support. In a recent interview, Luis Miguel Márquez, Secretary of ALAC, 'La Asociación Libres de Alcohol' (Association Free from Alcohol) in Linaraes (Jaen) said that the number of cases dealt with rises by 75% in the summer months. He puts this down to the increased free time over the holiday period. Although the media reports mainly on the binge drinking of those in their teens and early twenties, the average age group attended by ALAC is 42 years and mainly from a mid to upper socioeconomic groups. Sr. Márquez comments "it is very difficult to detect alcoholism in youngsters - the problem tends to be evident from the age of 30 upwards". He adds "Most young people who come for treatment here are brought by family members and the abusive consumption of alcohol is linked with taking drugs such as marijuana or cocaine.

The Andalucian Social Services have a network of support and help set up to help with problems of drug dependency. The initial port of call for therapeutic assistance is through your local Amubulatorio (National Health Clinic). This is the first part of the network of assistance available and can lead to Hospital Detoxification, Therapies within the Community, Treatment Shelters, Rehabilitations centres, Day Centres and Special Meeting Centres. These are State funded options, for which you will need to be a contributor to the State Social Security system and will be less likely to find English speaking assistance.

There are other privately run centres across Andalucia, offering many different types of support and help, including access to therapists and psychologists. In many areas inland, these centres tend to be run and attended by Spanish nationals and Spanish speakers.

However, in some of the major towns along the Costa del Sol, where many thousands of English speaking residents have now lived for many years, there will almost certainly be someone to speak to in English. The best way to find English speaking centres or assistance is by checking out the local (and usually free) English language newspapers and magazines. The 'Sur in English', which is free and to be found in most large newsagents and some bars and cafes on Fridays, has an excellent small ad section where groups and centres advertise.



Alcoholics Anonymous in Andalucia

The worldwide Alcoholics Anonymous organisation operates in Andalucia and there are many well established English speaking groups, especially along the Costa del Sol, which meet regularly. Most of the English language weekly newspapers have a section on club meetings, with details of when and where you can find this type of support. Whether on holiday or resident in Andalucia, you will be made welcome. For further information on meetings from Nerja to Gibraltar, phone: 952 470 358. Also see the AA entry in the Clubs page.

CA - Cocaine Anonymous in Andalucia

Cocaine anonymous has been operating on the Costa del Sol since 2003. We are here for anyone seeking recovery from "cocaine and all other mind altering substances". We host regular meetings that can be found on our website And offer support to anyone facing problems with drugs. We are here and we are free call us on 0034 671 245 198


Al-Anon (which includes Alateen for younger members) is an organisation which offers support, hope and a safe meeting point for families and friends of alcoholics. This worldwide organisation has been running for 50 years with the aim of helping families and friends of alcoholics, who are often severely affected by the difficulties and emotional stress, which is related to abusive drinking. It is helpful to know that there are English speaking Al-Anon groups in Andalucia and especially in the Costa del Sol area. Although Al-Anon is a separate entity from Alcoholics Anonymous, there is cooperation between the two organisations. As with AA, the meetings and support is offered in the strictest of confidence. For further information on English speaking meetings in your area, call: 662180326.

Learning to live without alcohol - intensive programmes

The problems of alcoholism and the difficulties it can cause are certainly not new. There are different methods of confronting the issue in Andalucia. Some of these are in the form of intensive residential programmes, which facilitate a calm and therapeutic atmosphere where confidentiality and discretion are given the highest priority. These methods will usually include the professional input of Clinical Psychologists, Counsellors and qualified medical practitioners who specialize in this field. The programmes are designed to help patients identify and understand the problems of their addiction, often through group and individual sessions. Normally treatment will include relaxation and stress management and there should be follow-up support on offer to help to avoid a relapse.

Alternative Approach to the Treatment of Addictive Behaviour

A method which is certainly not new to the United States is now available in Andalucia for those who would like to free themselves from addiction to alcohol. For over 20 years this more natural approach has been used in America and it includes many different and combined techniques such as Reiki and healing crystals in an intensive residential course. This unique course boasts an incredible 80% success rate and is now available at a centre in the relaxed and picturesque setting of Puerto Serrano (about 50 kilometres north of Ronda). A holistic approach, dealing with mind and body is the hallmark of this very successful programme. It treats the physical, mental and spiritual implications of alcoholism for each individual. This course guides you towards the freedom you deserve and helps you to find a new sense of direction.

Check it out before you check in!

Over the last couple of decades many ways of treating or dealing with problems of addiction have been developed. From psychiatric hospitalisation, to prescribed sedatives or other drugs, AA meetings, hypnotherapy or acupuncture, the methods are all different.
Each person is as different as the options available so before you decide which way to go, be sure it is for you. Also find as much background information as possible about the organisations and their methods or treatments used.

Living in Andalucia