Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia

French Polynesia

Extent, Patterns and Trends in Drug Abuse

Extent of Drug Abuse

Cannabis, hallucinogens (hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD), volatile solvents (trichlorethylene, white spirit), cocaine and other opiates are drugs reported abused in French Polynesia (U.N. 1990). The estimated annual prevalence range from 10,000 to 20,000 for cannabis, 500 to 1,000 for hallucinogens and volatile solvents, and 50 to 500 for cocaine. Daily abusers of drugs are estimated at 2,000 to 5,000 for cannabis, 100 to 200 for hallucinogens, 50 to 500 for cocaine and 5 to 20 for other opiates.

A survey on drug abuse among school children aged between 12 and 20 years old on the island of Tahiti is reported to have been conducted in 1988, but the results of the study have not been reported (U.N. 1988). In 1990, no national survey on the extent of drug abuse in French Polynesia had been carried out (U.N. 1990).

Abuser Characteristics

Drug abusers in French Polynesia tend to be males (75-80 per cent in 1990) (U.N. 1990).

Most abusers of cannabis are young male students or young unemployed persons and are between 10 and 30 years of age. Hallucinogen abusers are reported mainly in the 15-35 age group, and volatile solvent abusers between 8 and 20 years of age (U.N. 1990).

Regional Variations

Cannabis is reported abused throughout the country, except for a few smaller atolls. The abuse of hallucinogenic mushrooms is reported only in the production areas in the higher islands (U.N. 1988).


Cannabis abuse is reported spreading to all social strata and to all islands of the country. An increase in psychosis associated with cannabis abuse as well as delinquency resulting from drug abuse is reported for 1990. For 1990, slight increase in the abuse of hallucinogens and stable abuse of volatile solvents were reported (U.N. 1990).

The number of drug addicts undergoing treatment has increased from 28 in 1988 to 90 in 1990. The proportion of patients undergoing treatment for the first time however remained the same (U.N. 1988, 1990).

Mode of intake

Cannabis is reported smoked and often taken in combination with hallucinogenic mushrooms and/or alcohol. Hallucinogens are reported taken by mouth and volatile solvents inhaled (U.N. 1990).



The cultivation of cannabis by families is reported to have become a source of income. The number of deaths resulting from drug abuse is reported not known (U.N. 1990).



Treaty adherence

French Polynesia is not Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or its amendment by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, or the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.



National Strategy

No information reported in Annual Reports Questionnaire by 31st December 1993.



Primary Prevention

Preventive education is carried out in primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education using videos, talks and lectures. Adult drug preventive education is reported carried out through mass media campaigns, through parent associations and in the work place. Preventive education is provided to teachers, medical personnel and social workers. A national anti-alcohol day is organized to sensitize the general public of the dangers of alcohol abuse. Leaflets and posters are published and television programmes with anti-drug information are aired targeted at the general population (U.N. 1990). Cartoons have been used for drug preventive education of youth 6 to 12 years old (U.N. 1988).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

In 1990, a total of 90 persons were undergoing treatment for drug abuse (of which 63 for the first time). Cannabis abusers make up the majority of those in treatment (75), followed by psychotropic substances (10) and cocaine type (5) drug abusers. The estimated relapse rate for cannabis abusers one year after treatment is 50 per cent. In 1990, no social reintegration programmes were reported in operation (U.N. 1990).



Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

In 1990, 287 persons were arrested for drug related offences, all involving cannabis. Of these, 255 were arrested for possession/abuse and 32 for trafficking (U.N. 1990).


In 1990, all seizures carried out in French Polynesia were of cannabis (6.175 kg herbal cannabis, 7,626 cannabis plants and 5,111 cannabis seeds) (U.N. 1990).

Supply Sources of Drugs

Cannabis plants and herbal cannabis seized in French Polynesia are locally grown, whereas cannabis resin is trafficked into the country. Hallucinogenic mushrooms are locally picked, and LSD is trafficked from abroad (U.N. 1988).

References and Notes

* The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years .... (not yet received from CND)

U.N. 1988,1990. Replies to the UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years 1988 and 1990.