Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Drug Abuse in Eastern Europe

                                                   EXTENT OF DRUG ABUSE

About 3 per 1000 population were registered drug abusers in 1991 and a total of 1 154 drug abusers were registered in 1992, including 338 new cases.(U.N. 1991 1992).

            In 1988 the Ministry of Public Health of the BSSR carried out a study among drug addicts and non-medical abusers of narcotic drugs. The study found that abuse of opium is prevalent among 71% of all drug abusers, followed by stimulants (22%) (CMO 1990).

            A sample survey of 5000 young people carried out in 1988 found that about 22% of the respondents reported knowing another young person who consumes narcotic drugs and 3% admitted to abusing drugs themselves (CMO 1990).

            A fact finding mission estimates the number of drug addicts to be close to 10 000. Poppy straw extract is the most prevalent (70%), followed by cannabis and pharmaceutical preparations (Mission Report 1993).


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).


Cannabis is the most abused drug in Croatia with an estimated 90 000 annual abusers and 15 000 daily abusers. It is followed by opiates (10 000 annual abusers and 4 000 daily abusers), opium (3000 annual and 800 daily abusers and synthetic narcotic analgesics (2 000 annually and 200 daily). Heroin is reported abused daily by approximately 3 000. There are an estimated 3 000 annual abusers of cocaine and 300 daily abusers, hallucinogens (2000 annual and 500 daily abusers), 300 annual abusers of amphetamines, 3 000 daily abusers of sedatives. There are an estimated 6 000 annually and 500 daily abusers of volatile solvents. Multiple drug abuse is common; opiates are taken in combination with cannabis or cocaine, sedatives with alcohol or volatile solvents. Opium production is reported to have increased along with opium tea (infusions of poppy capsules in boiling water)
(U.N. 1992).


The number of registered drug abusers in 1991 was 7 809, a decrease since 1990 (9 800). It is, however, estimated that the number of drug abusers is five times higher (U.N. 1990 and 1991). Volatile solvent abuse is highest (29%), followed by opiates (26%), sedatives (18.2%) and multiple drug abuse (13.8%). One hundred drug abusers were registered as cannabis abusers, 41 to hallucinogens and 1 to cocaine (see table 1 for more details) (U.N. 1991).

Table 1. Numbers of registered drug abusers in the Czech and Slovak Republic, 1991 (U.N. 1991)
Drug category                                Number of registered abusers
                                    Czech Republic            Slovak Republic                       Total
Opiate type
Opium                          -                                               -                                   -
Heroin                          -                                               -                                   -
Morphine                     507                                          13                                520
codeine                        354                                          23                                377
 narcotic                       629                                          506                              1135
Cocaine (base/
 salts)                          1                                              -                                   1
Cannabis                     74                                            26                                100
Hallucinogens             28                                            13                                41
Amphetamine Type
Amphetamine               373                                          20                                393
Methamphetamine        336                                          4                                  340
 amphetamines              17                                            -                                   17
Sedative Type                                   
Barbiturates                  227                                          65                                292
Benzodiazepines           320                                          85                                405
Other                           473                                          254                              727
Multiple drug
 abuse                         715                                          369                              1084
Volatile solvents        1563                                        699                              2262
Other drugs                80                                            35                                115
Total                            5697                                        2112                            7809

Statistics on drug abusers is considered limited in reliability (Hungary 1991). It is estimated that less than one percent of the population abuses drugs (IDAAS 1989). Approximately 100 000 persons are reported to be dependent on tranquilizers (mainly benzodiazepines) and sedatives (mainly glutethimide), mostly women, middle aged or elderly. Abuse of codeine and hydrocodeine is prevalent among young people. Volatile solvent abuse, peaked in the late seventies and early eighties, is reported among youth. Poppy preparations are consumed as a tea infusion by young people. Some injection of these poppy preparations is also reported. Multiple drug abuse is reported common (combinations of alcohol, tranquilizers, dihydrocodeine, glutethimide and ephedrine and sedative hypnotics). Abuse of heroin, cocaine and cannabis is reported not widespread (U.N. 1989 and Hungary 1991).


In 1992, 635 registered drug addicts were reported, 82 were in treatment for the first time. It is estimated that drug addiction is at least ten times higher. Registry data suggests that the most abused drugs among addicts are opiates (292 registered annual abusers, 228 daily abusers aged between 17 and 46), followed by amphetamines (258 annual abusers, 166 daily abusers, aged between 18 and 46) and volatile solvents (111 annual abusers, 83 daily abusers, aged between 19 and 36). Multiple drug abuse accounted for 163 annual registered abusers and 91 daily abusers (U.N. 1992).

            Other drugs abused by registered drug addicts are sedatives, (62 annual abusers, 33 daily abusers, aged between 23 and 44), hallucinogens (18 annual and 14 daily abusers aged between 36 and 47), cannabis (10 annual and 3 daily abusers, aged between 19 and 25), and other drugs (e.g. chemically processed ephedrine)(26 annual abusers, 17 daily abusers)(U.N. 1992).


Opiates obtained from locally grown poppy are the most abused drugs in Poland followed by volatile substances. Poppy straw brews ("makiwara") and poppy milk used to process heroin ("Kompot" or Polish heroin) are the two forms of opiates abused (Puzynski, S. 1983).

            Treatment data figures indicate that there are up to 35,000 drug abusers in Poland (U.N. 1991).

            Among 3857 drug abusers in treatment in 1991, 80% abused opiates, 7% volatile substances, 7% multiple drugs, 5% sedatives, 5% cannabis, 2% amphetamine and 1% hallucinogens (CMO 91).


In 1992, 13 drug abusers (including 12 foreigners who were in transit through Romania) were registered (79 in 1990 and 10 in 1989), out of which 5 were addicted to cannabis, 4 to opium, 3 to heroin and 1 to synthetic narcotic analgesics. In 1990, there were 30 benzodiazepine drug abusers, 24 sedative hypnotic abusers and 25 volatile substance abusers. In 1989, registered abusers were addicted to benzodiazepine and sedative hypnotics. Surveys to determine the extent of drug abuse were not reported (U.N. 1989,1990,1992).


Poppy oil is the main drug of abuse (63% of all registered drug abusers in 1992), followed by cannabis (13%) in the Russian Federation. Toxic substances like acetone, benzene, glues, tranquilizers which are not under control, and multiple drugs are also abused (U.N. 1992).

Data reported separately for drug addicts and drug abusers.

            In 1992, there were 32,610 registered drug addicts and 20,281 registered drug abusers, of which 5141 drug addicts and 6669 drug abusers were registered for the first time in that year (U.N. 1992).


Cannabis is the most abused drug in Slovenia. Heroin is becoming increasingly abused with an estimated 3000 addicts in 1993 and approximately 400 kg consumed yearly. Opium, morphine and LSD are also abused. Cocaine has appeared on the illicit market in recent years (Report 1993).


The most abused drug in Ukraine is reported to be home-made dimethylmorphine (dimitrol). It is estimated that there are 90,000 to 150,000 annual and 27,000 to 100,000 daily abusers of opiates, as well as 4000 to 10,000 annual and 3000 to 5000 daily abusers of volatile substances (U.N. 1992).

     Other drugs reported abused are cannabis and psychotropic substances (sedatives) (U.N. 1992).