Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

The number of registered drug addicts in 1990 was 1 311 (1 276 in 1989). Of these, 551 were occasional users (526 in 1989) who are also registered and undergoing some treatment. Of the total 760 drug addicts in treatment centres in 1990, 50% were polydrug addicts, 17% opiate addicts, 16% were addicts of substances containing codeine and 7% were volatile solvent abusers. The remainder were amphetamine (21), benzodiazepines (27) and sedative-hypnotic (18) abusers (U.N. 1989 1990).

            Polydrug abuse of substances containing codeine (morphine, pethidine, codeine) and psychotropic substances is the most common form of abuse in Bulgaria. Concern over volatile solvent abuse has also been reported (Bulgaria 1993).

                       Abuser Characteristics

The average age of drug addicts is between 20 and 30 years old, but this age range has been decreasing and it is reported that heroin abuse is now common in 13 to 14 years old drug abusers (Bulgaria 1991). Thirty per cent of opiates addicts are reported to be female (U.N. 1990). Solvent abuse is reported among children 10 years of age and younger and among the gipsy population (Bulgaria 1993).

                         Regional  Variations

Drug abuse is more common in urban areas, especially Sofia (Bulgaria 1993).


The number of abusers of illicit and licit drugs has increased rapidly in recent years and their average age decreased (Bulgaria 1993).

                             Mode of intake

Intravenous drug abuse is rare (Bulgaria 1992).


The drug abuse situation appears to be changing rapidly in Bulgaria. A 1992 report did not consider drug abuse to be a serious problems from a medical and social consequences point of view (Bulgaria 1992). However, 1993 a report pointed out a high rate of suicide and attributed it to the breakdown social system malfunction. Bulgaria ranks first among European countries, the United States and Japan in the number of suicides among children 5 to 14 years of age (2.7 per 100 000 inhabitants) (Bulgaria 1993)

            HIV seropositivity /AIDS. No AIDS cases among drug abusers have been reported as of June 1993 (European Centre 1993). However, isolated cases of HIV infection among drug addicts have been reported earlier (Bulgaria 1991).



                           National Strategy

Bulgaria uses legal policy to control drug supply and demand. Severe sanctions and imprisonment terms are imposed on offenders (Bulgaria 1991).

            The Government of Bulgaria has created a National Council for Combatting Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.  Headed by the Minister of Public Health, and composed of members from many ministries, the councils' responsibility will be to coordinate the Governments' demand and supply reduction activities (Bulgaria 1994).


                           Treaty adherence

Bulgaria is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and to the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.


                          Primary Prevention

Preventive education in schools is organized by the Ministry of Education and the Medical Academy and is part of the curriculum of school aged children.

            Some drug prevention information, targeting the general public, is diffused through radio and television. Other drug prevention information rests with institutions responsible for drug control, law enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation.

            Special drug prevention training is available to medical doctors and staff of specialized clinics.

            AIDS/HIV infection prevention.  Because of the small number of cases, no specific measures have been taken with respect to AIDS prevention, except for close monitoring of the situation. Single use needles and syringes is under discussion (Bulgaria 1991).

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment, selected to suit individual needs, is provided in an out-patient centre, in emergency units and psychiatric clinics in Sofia and Suhodol. New treatment approaches are now sought to supplement moralizing used during by previous regimes. "Electric sleep" and acupuncture are used. Attempts on rehabilitation and reintegration into society are made. Therapeutic communities based on principles of self and mutual support are being planned (Bulgaria 1991).

            One hundred and seventy nine persons were provided treatment in 1990 (78 for opiate type drugs and 101 for psychotropic substance dependence). Of these, 61 were treated for the first time. Relapse rate is estimated at approximately 50% (U.N. 1990).


      Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

Forty five drug trafficking offences were reported in 1991 (30 in 1990, 49 in 1989), of which most were heroin related (15), codeine preparations (10), synthetic drugs (9), other opiates (8), morphine (2) and cannabis (1). Most offences are committed by men (42), 20 to 24 years of age (24), unemployed (10) and qualified workers (12) (U.N. 1989, 1990 and 1991).


Twenty nine seizures of heroin (145 kg) and 3 seizures of cannabis resin (27 kg) were reported in 1991. Quantities of seized heroin have been increasing since 1988, that of cannabis resin decreased in the same period (U.N. 1988 1989 1990 and 1991).

                      Supply Source of Drugs

Eighty four percent of the seized heroin in 1991 was from Turkey and Iran (U.N. 1991).

                       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 available by January 15th 1994).

U.N. 1988 1989 1990 1991 Responses to the UNDCP Annual Report Questionnaires for the years 1988 1989, 1990 and 1991

Report of Bulgaria 1993 Report of Bulgaria to the Symposium on Outreach work, 22-24 February 1993, Pompidou group

Bulgaria 1991  Report of Bulgaria to the First Pan-European Ministerial Conference on co-operation on illicit drug abuse problems, Oslo 9-10 May 1991

European Centre for the epidemiological monitoring of AIDS 1993 AIDS surveillance in Europe. Quarterly Report no. 38, 30 June 1993.

Bulgaria 1992 Report of the delegation of Bulgaria to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 31 March 1992.

Bulgaria 1994. Council of Ministers, "the creation of the National Council for Combatting Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking".