health of people

The health of people with addictions worsens because they take longer to ask for help: they arrive at Proyecto Hombre at the age of 44

The average age of the people attended by Proyecto Hombre Cataluña, an NGO that works against addictions, has increased from 37 to 44 years in a decade. This was stated by the entity this Tuesday in the presentation of its 2022 annual report, which also shows that the average time it takes to start treatment once they have problems is 17.3 years.

Cristina Vidal, the technical director of Proyecto Hombre Catalunya, warned that the age of the people who come to the NGO grows, “is a longer period of consumption, with what that implies in terms of worsening their illness health condition”. 

Vidal has attributed the delay in asking for help to a “combination of many factors.” He has pointed out, among them, the “aging of the population, the fact that the consumption of alcohol and cocaine is very normalized and the alarms do not go off so soon” or that those who previously did not want to treat themselves “verify that it is never too late to take a decision”.

To observe what characteristics the older people who come to the entity present, the report analyzes those aged 50 or over, who represent 21.1%, and shows that 75.2% are men and 24.8%, are women. The main substance consumed by 55.3% is alcohol, while cocaine is the second most used by addicts (31.2%). The study also indicates that 38.3% of people of this age have a dual pathology, that is, a mental disorder as well as an addiction.


The increase in the years of those treated has indicated the technical director of the NGO, requires “more flexible” treatments and adapted to the “failure” of previous attempts to abandon their bad habits. It also means taking into account that their family support may be less than that of younger people since often they only have the help of very old parents or very adult children without much time available. In addition, it requires more support for those who are looking for work, since they often encounter “more difficulties” in finding one due to their age.

Vicenç Suárez, who is 59 years old and is one of the people the NGO cares for, due to alcoholism, explained that he is trying to find a job. He has been proud of it, because “three months ago” he did not consider it, he said. His last job was as a janitor in a residence, but he was fired. He has also explained that “before he did not speak with the family”, which he is recovering. “You realize that until now you have not lived, you have survived, and now you begin to live,” he said.

Read also: Smoking more than four joints a week involves a health risk, according to a study

For his part, Jaume Comerma, 58, has said that he is working again after losing his company, his house, and his friends due to his addiction to alcohol and cocaine. “Now, keep fighting, because this is a lifelong disease. You always have the beast inside, and the important thing is that it doesn’t wake up,” he said.

Addiction to the internet and gambling among young people is on the rise

The 2022 annual report, on the other hand, highlights that although cannabis was, as in 2021, the main reason for requests for help from young people aged 14 to 23 (58.4%), those related to behavioral addictions increased (20.8%). These include abuse of the internet, screens, video games, and online gambling, and last year they came in second place for the first time and surpassed alcohol in third place (10.4%). 

Vidal and Jordi Feu, directors of the NGO’s Management and Communication Area, have pointed out several possible reasons for the increase in the number of young people who come to the entity for behavioral addictions. Among them is the increased use of new technologies in society, the confinement that occurred during Covid, and the fact that there is more “awareness of the problem” and “more is known” about Proyecto Hombre to deal with it. Feu and Vidal have called on the older ones to set an example.

gambling among young people

The report highlights that while cannabis use is similar between adolescents aged 17 and under and young people between 18 and 23, 28.6% of those in the first group have behavioral addictions, compared to 19% of those over the age of age. 

Of the people between the ages of 14 and 23 who are served by the NGO, 83.1% are men and 16.9% are women. The average age is 21 years and 51.9% have a dual pathology.

Only 17% of women who attended

The entity served 1,486 people in 2022, a figure similar to that of the previous year, of which only 17.6% were women, while 82.4% were men. 35.8% of the total had dual pathology, a percentage that among the female group rose to 61%. Vidal has attributed these differences between men and women, which are repeated year after year, to the fact that they go to the NGO when they are older because they tend to have greater family responsibilities and hide their addictions since society stigmatizes them more than it does them. When they arrive at Proyecto Hombre, he has said, they are “in a very vulnerable situation.”

Regarding the reason for entering a treatment program, cocaine addiction is the majority (46.9% of cases), followed by alcoholism (38.4%). While in men cocaine causes 49.9% of requests for help and alcohol 33.3%, in women alcohol is the most problematic substance (62.5%), ahead of cocaine ( 32.7%). 

“Approximately half of the people who start treatment finish it successfully,” Vidal pointed out.

Benefit concert

Next Saturday, April 22, the vigil of Sant Jordi, at 7:00 p.m., L’Auditori will host the seventh edition of the Solidarity Concert of the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia (JONC), for the benefit of Proyecto Hombre. 

Under the direction of Manel Valdivieso, the JONC will perform Albada, a program with works by Strauss, Toldrà and Guinjoan, which will feature the premiere of a piece commissioned by the orchestra from Joan Magrané: Violin Concerto, with solo violinist Joel Bardolet. 

Tickets, which cost between 10 and 35 euros, can be purchased on the L’Auditori website.

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