Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse registry records indicate that in 1991, most registered abusers consumed benzodiazepines (85) followed by barbiturates (20), other sedatives (30), synthetic narcotic analgesics (80), cannabis (15), amphetamines (10), heroin (5) and cocaine (3) (U.N. 1991).

            Among patients in treatment in 1991, benzodiazepines are the most common drugs of abuse (73 of the total 109), followed by opiates (20), cannabis (13) cocaine (2) and one for amphetamines (CMO 1991).

            A 1991 survey of school children aged 14 to 18, (sample size 3,037) indicates that the annual abuse of opiates is about 0.8 per cent, cocaine (0.2 per cent) and cannabis 0.7 per cent (U.N. 1991; for more details see also table 1).

Table 1. Survey results by drug category in 14 to 18 year olds, 1991
                            Percentage        Opiates     cocaine            cannabis
Never used                   98.8%        98.8%        98.5%
ever used                      1.2%          1.2%          1.5%
any use last year           0.8%          0.2%          0.7%
any use last 30 days      0.1%          0.2%          0.3%
 use in 20 of past          0.2%          0.2%                      0.4%
 30 days or daily
(Source: Annual Report Questionnaire 1991).

            Other studies have shown that drug abuse is not a serious problem in Cyprus but the proportion of students and soldiers at risk is estimated at 10 to 15 per cent (CMO 1991).

                       Abuser Characteristics

Sixty per cent of benzodiazepine abusers are women, 40 to 60 years of age, living in urban areas and unemployed (U.N. 1990). Most other drugs are abused mainly by the younger generation (U.N. 1991).

                         Regional  Variations

Drug abuse is more common in urban areas (U.N. 1991).


A large increase in the supply of cannabis and its abuse was reported in 1991. Some increase in the abuse of heroin, benzodiazepine and other sedative type drugs was also reported in the same year. Multiple drug abuse is reported to have also increased. Cocaine abuse has remained stable (U.N. 1991).

                             Mode of intake

Between 5 and 10 per cent of the drug addicts in Cyprus are estimated to be intravenous drug abusers (CMO 1991). Cannabis and sedatives are usually taken in combination with alcohol (U.N. 1991).


The number of drug addicts in Cyprus being low, the costs and consequences of drug addiction cannot be estimated (U.N. 1991).

            Drug related deaths.  No drug related deaths occurred as a result of drug abuse in 1990. Two drug related deaths were recorded in 1991 (U.N. 1990 and CMO 1991).

            HIV seroprevalence/AIDS. Of 130 HIV infections reported in 1991, none were intravenous drug abuse related. Of the 23 AIDS cases reported in 1991, 4 were intravenous drug abusers (CMO 1991).


                           National Strategy

The defining of drug control policies lies with the council of Ministers to which the ministries of Justice, Health and Interior make submission on issues which fall within their field of competence. The council of Ministers established a National Committee for the Prevention of Drug Abuse as a coordinating body. The Committee includes representatives from the three above mentioned ministries as well as the ministries of education, labour and Social Insurance, Finance, the Church and the private sector (Cyprus 1991). Youth Agencies and voluntary organizations are also involved in drug related prevention and treatment activities.


                           Treaty Adherence

Cyprus is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.


                          Primary Prevention

Prevention activities began in secondary schools in 1990 but do not constitute part of the curricula. Extra curricular prevention seminars are also organized in schools (U.N. 1991).

            Basic training is provided to health workers (but not doctors or pharmacists), psychiatric and community nurses, social workers and law enforcement personnel.

            Seminars, workshops and lectures on drug education are organized for parents and youth groups. Information on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation is available to the workforce by the National Committee for Drugs, Youth Agencies and voluntary organizations (reached 1 to 5 per cent of the work force in 1991).

            A survey of teachers' attitudes towards drug abuse indicates that 80 per cent do not discuss drugs with their students and that the majority have no knowledge about drugs. Male teachers hold more negative attitudes towards drug abuse and addicts. The majority said they would call the police if a student was using drugs (U.N. 1991).

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

More than 75 per cent of the population is entitled to free treatment. A variety of treatment services are available. A therapeutic unit (10 beds), located in Nicosia, provides treatment and substitution services. In Larnaca, an out-patient psychiatric clinic has been operating since 1989 with the help of self-help groups. A therapeutic community for drug addicts and alcoholics was established in 1992. Other facilities include, a general hospital and a specialized detoxification centre (18 patients in 1990). In 1991, a total of 109 patients were undergoing treatment (58 females), the majority for benzodiazepine addiction (50 females). The relapse rate for these addicts is estimated at 80 per cent, for cannabis 50 per cent, opiates 10 per cent and cocaine 5 per cent.

            Drug abusers make 1.5 per cent of the prison population. Miscellaneous treatment and after care programmes are available to addicted prisoners: general medical care, counselling on drug related diseases, vocational training, general education, social reintegration and after care (CMO 1991).


       Arrests, convictions and types of Offences

The number of drug related arrests increased from 79 in 1990 to 90 in 1991 (U.N. 1991). Approximately half of these are of foreigners (47 in 1991). Sixty two  persons were convicted of drug related offences in 1990, including 32 for trafficking (16 for heroin, 12 for cannabis). About half were males (U.N. 1990)


Most drug seizures are of cannabis (38 of all forms, totalling 304 kg and 84 cannabis plants in 1990), followed by heroin (8 seizures, 4.8 kg), synthetic drugs (3 seizures, 86 units), and one seizure of cocaine of 10 grams (U.N. 1990). Seizures quantities of heroin and cannabis increased since 1989.

                      Supply Source of Drugs

All heroin seized in 1990 was of Lebanese origin (U.N. 1990).

                       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. 1990,1991. Replies to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years 1990 and 1991.

CMO 1991. Replies to UNDCP questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (CMO) (1991).

Cyprus 1991. National Report of Cyprus to the First Pan-European Ministerial Conference on Co-Operation on Illicit Drug Abuse Problems. Oslo 9-10 May 1991.