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Heroin is the most dreadful drug in Greece

11 November 2010 / 15:11:28  GRReporter
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Cannabis remains the most popular, but heroin is the most dangerous drug in Europe, notes the annual report on drugs and alcohol in Europe, presented by the Director of the European Centre for Drugs Alexis Gusdeel.

Drug use is no longer a phenomenon of the juvenile age. The number of drug users aged over 40 years is increasingly growing and in addition to poor quality of life they often have problems with alcohol and smoking, but also have health problems typical for people twenty years older than them, said Mr. Gusdeel.

Not sufficient steps are made in Europe in relation to prevention and detoxification programs involve over 1 million people, half of which are located in four countries. We should work on this issue in the coming years - prevention, therapy and treatment in prisons, said the director of the European Centre for Drugs. According to experts, in parallel with treatment programs need to be conducted programs for integration into the labour market so that it makes sense for the participants in the programs and to prevent the country from loosing money, said Meni Maliori - Director of the Detoxification Center OKANA.

The announcement of the report was attended by the Minister of Health Andreas Loverdos, who said that decisions should be taken about 17 drug addicts detoxification centres sheltering at different hospitals.

Over 75 million Europeans have tried cannabis, which is about 22.5 percent of the population, and a quarter of them are aged between 14 and 35 years. According to the report, cannabis is much more popular as a drug in parts of Eastern Europe in comparison with Western Europe. The data for Bulgaria and Greece show that they are among the five stabilizing countries where even reduction in the use of ‘grass’ is registered among young people, while there is increasing trend in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy and Slovakia.

Some European countries have been implementing new programs over the past three or four years for ‘disengagement’ from cannabis. The programs use family and group therapy sessions with friends and teachers’ visits at home. The sesults of these programs have not yet come out, but their price for the state budget is of particular interest, said Mr. Gusdeel.

Besides cannabis, which we could say is especially harmful to the psychological state of the addicts, the most dreadful drug for Europeans is heroin. There are 1.5 million heroin addicts in Europe and it is still the drug associated with most cases of death. According to the survey, most vulnerable are the people living in cities and are low in society. The biggest problem with heroin is encountered in Russia, where every year there are 10,000 deaths because of overdoses. Other countries that also suffer from the effects of opiates are Ireland, Malta and Italy, while the heroin causes not many problems in the Czech Republic and Finland, where there is widespread use of amphetamines and ecstasy.  

Large number of Europeans, 14 million, have tried cocaine and shocking is the fact that 3 million of them are under 34 years of age. It is apparent that there is growing use of cocaine in Greece as the number of people seeking help for detoxification has increased three times in recent years. Cocaine users have different profile than those who use heroin and do not consider themselves addicts. The report also shows that deaths caused by cocain have been increasingly revealed which is quite difficult as it can not be determined whether a heart attack is caused due to use of the drug, because there is no cocaine overdose as with heroin, said Mr. Gusdeel. He added that deaths due to cocaine have tripled in England last year and that accurate data is available only for Britain and Spain. Amphetamines remain a problem in many European countries and around 12 million Europeans mostly from the Nordic countries aged between 15 and 64 have tried them at least once in their lifetime, and about 2 million have tried them the last year. Greece ranks among the countries with the lowest rate of dependence on ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines.

An important issue is the new synthetic drugs. 24 new substances were discovered in 2008  and 31 new drugs were discovered in 2010, most popular of which are those based on cannabis. These drugs are sold increasingly online which is making their tracking even more difficult. 170 online stores that sold legitimate psychotropic substances and hallucinogenic mushrooms were detected since the beginning of this year.

Greece has to solve the problem of drug use in prisons and to develop rehabilitation programs. Between 10-30% of the prisoners in Europe, amounting to a total of about 600 000 people, and 45% of the prisoners in Greece are serving sentences related to drugs. Drug use in prisons is much more frequent and much harder drugs are used there than outside the prison. In many countries, care for drug addicted prisoners is transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Health and more than 5% of the total number of prisoners are included in detoxification programs.

Mr. Gusdeel expressed concerns of the European Centre linked to the economic crisis and poverty - on the one hand, the budget for drug addicts treatment programs should not be reduced and on the other hand, sometimes poverty is among the factors for some people to start taking drugs.

Tags: News
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