Gandelina Damião, 78, lost three children to heroin in the 1990s. She says she wishes methadone clinics and other government-sponsored drug treatment had been available to her children before they died

Gandelina Damião, 78, is permanently hunched, carrying her sorrow. She lost three children to heroin in the 1990s.
A quarter century ago, her cobblestone lane, up a grassy hill from Lisbon’s Tagus River, was littered with syringes. She recalls having to search for her teenagers in graffitied stone buildings nearby, where they would shoot up.
“It was a huge blow,” Damião says, pointing to framed photos on her wall of Paulo, Miguel and Liliana. “I was a good mother. I never gave them money for drugs. But I couldn’t save them.”
For much of the 20th century, Portugal was a closed, Catholic society, with a military dictator and no drug education. In the early 1970s, young Portuguese men were drafted to fight wars in the country’s African colonies, where many were exposed to drugs for the first time. Some came home addicted.
In 1974, there was a revolution — and an explosion of freedom.
“It …
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