In Vevey, cocaine has infiltrated all social strata

The days of Jakob*, 40, follow and look alike. From morning to night, he pursues a single objective: to obtain cocaine at a lower price. He buys it in the form of powder, then he transforms it into “pebbles” which he smokes: crack. Either the most addictive form of consumption.

Over the course of a day, he says he absorbs up to 6g of white powder. “I have more than that in my life. I lost everything: my family, my friends,” he says, squinting his faded blue eyes, with a slight hiss in his voice, a collateral effect of compulsive consumption: his addiction has also cost him his teeth, gnawed by the acid.

To get rid of loneliness, Jakob goes every morning to Vevey, to the low-threshold reception center of the Aacts Foundation (Addiction, community action and social work). In this place, a stone’s throw from the popular Place Robin, its games for children, its football pitch and its chestnut trees, dependent, destitute or homeless people can find a hot meal for 3 francs, a free shower and something to wash their laundry. Staff also provide administrative support and distribute sterile consumables.

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The street market for the poorest

For Vincent Masciulli, director of the foundation, the greater visibility of street dealing also reflects a form of democratization of drug consumption: “Substances evolve with a society that is increasingly oriented towards efficiency and thrills. We are no longer in the dichotomy between the banking executive on one side and, on the other, drug addicts on the street. Between these two profiles, there is a very diverse range of consumers, from the housewife in parental burnout to the waiter who wants to forget about his back pain.

Among the approximately 800 people who visit the premises each year, the social worker has seen the arrival of new categories of consumers. Integrated, they often have a job, a roof and a family, but sometimes consume just as many narcotics as people in social breakdown. “These are often people who work in particularly physically demanding sectors,” observes the professional.

Regular recreational users turn to other markets, where the available offer is not limited to cannabis and cocaine, but also includes: ketamine, LSD, amphetamines, or new experimental substances. “We have seen the development of a private party environment on the Riviera in recent years. But at home, the dealers are the private delivery companies: they generally order on the internet, or from contacts considered more reliable than those on the street, where the quality of narcotics is the lowest, ”describes Vincent Masciulli .

Users who turn to the street are generally either occasional and spontaneous users who buy a pellet of cocaine on a whim on the weekend, or those who lack the necessary connections to obtain supplies via more discrete or poorer networks.

“One night, I gave in”

Like Jacob. A minority of heavy consumers like him help drive traffic every day of the week. “Here, it’s easier than buying a pizza. Faster anyway,” he says. In “the life before”, as he calls it, he was a groom, mason, cheese maker or even forklift driver. “I loved learning a new trade. I had ambitions, I wanted to show what I could do. It took me a few days to get hired. I earned up to 6800 francs net per month.”

Read also: The cocaine market in Switzerland weighs five tons and half a billion francs

Until the company where he works fires him along with 25 other people. Here he is without a job, with an open loan, a car and a motorbike on lease. “I found myself very quickly in pursuit. Then my wife filed for divorce. It was too much. In my entourage, I was often offered cocaine. I always said no. One evening, I gave in. I was 32 years old and I had never touched any substance.

He sinks into a depression and begins a therapeutic follow-up. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He ends up at the AI. How does he manage to pay for such quantities of narcotics with a minimal income? He remains evasive. “Hands it off,” he said. It became my first occupation.”

* Assumed first name

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