Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Drug Abuse in Eastern Europe

                                                ABUSER CHARACTERISTICS

Most registered drug abusers are males (78%), 65% are under the age of 30 years old and 11% have higher education (CMO 1990).


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).


Males are the majority in in-patients psychiatric treatment centres (77.8% of the 401 total). Most abusers in treatment are 20 to 34 years of age (U.N. 1992).


In general, drug abuse is most prevalent among those 15 to 25 years of age. Hallucinogens is prevalent among those 18 to 25 years of age; volatile solvents among those 14 to 18 years of age; codeine among those 16 to 20 years of age. However among registered drug abusers in the Slovak Republic, 47% are over 35 years old and 23% are 20 to 34 years old. Volatile solvent abuse is more common in the younger age group reaching a peak at the age of 14; after which it decreases. By the age of 19, it volatile solvent abuse is rare. Cannabis is popular among the young and the educated, where it is commonly held that the drug is harmless. Cannabis, hallucinogen and volatile solvent are abused by males mostly (U.N. 1991).


Tranquilizer and morphine abuse is more prevalent among women (U.N. 1990). Other drugs are abused by men (4:1 ratio). The age range of abusers is between 20 and 30, but lower for volatile solvent abuse (U.N. 1990).


Drug addicts registered in treatment centers for addiction to opiates, cannabis, sedatives, volatile solvents and multiple drug abuse tend to be males. However, synthetic narcotic analgesic and amphetamine abusers are mainly female. Hallucinogens dependence is equal among men and women (U.N. 1992).

            The age range of registered abusers is between 15 and 59. The largest proportion of the registered abusers were between 20 and 34 years old (64% of the total). Cannabis, volatile solvents and sedatives are the main drugs of dependence of the younger age groups (U.N. 1992).

            Most drug addicts are unemployed and involved some form of crime (drugs trade, robbery, theft). Many are supported by parents (U.N. 1992)


Opiates abusers usually belong to urban areas and are single and between 20-30 years of age. About 60% are unemployed and have low education or are students. The majority have difficulties in social adaptation (U.N. 1990).

            Volatile substance abuse occurs mainly in groups of primary school age children (12-15) in urban areas. The abusers are often from socially disadvantaged families (separated or alcoholic parents), and have scholastic and learning difficulties (U.N. 1990).

            Among drug addicts in treatment centres in 1991, 72% were 20-34 years old, and 24% were females (CMO 1991).


In 1992, all but one of the registered drug abusers were male and over 35 years of age (U.N. 1992). Volatile substance abuse among young adolescents was reported in 1989 (U.N. 1989).


Majority of registered drug addicts in 1992 were males (87%) (U.N. 1992).


Out of the 91 persons convicted of consuming drugs in 1992, 36% were between 18 and 21, 34% between 22 and 30, 19% below 18 and 11% over 30 years of age. In 1991 (110 persons), these proportions were 37%, 36%, 20% and 8% respectively (Report 1993).


Registered drug abusers are between 15 and 40 years of age, the majority 20-34 years old. In 1992, 20% of the registered abusers were females (18% in 1991) (U.N. 1991,1992).