RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — This country is now the world’s biggest crack market with over a million users, according to recent international studies.
It’s so bad, the health minister called it an “epidemic” and the government announced a $2 billion program to combat it last December.
"Crakolandias," where users gather to get high, have sprouted up in Rio and other Brazilian cities.
Rio's government launched a controversial policy of mandatory treatment for addicts in February, but there is still no sign it has made an impact. When authorities show up in one place, addicts flee, and a new crackland soon appears somewhere else.
But evangelical church groups have had some surprising success helping “crakudos,” as addicts here are called.
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