Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 120,000 opiate abusers and approximately 1 million cannabis abusers based on police data, household surveys, follow ups, treatment centres and expert estimates. No clear estimation for cocaine is possible due to the high frequency of multiple drug abuse (U.N. 1991).

            The most recent survey on consumption and abuse of illicit drugs, alcohol, medical preparations and tobacco in Germany was concluded in 1991. The age range of the subjects was 12 to 39 and the sample size approximately 20,000 people in both the old Lהnder (former FRG) and the new Lהnder (former GDR) (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            The lifetime prevalence of drug abuse in the former GDR was reported to be 1.5 per cent with the most abused drug being cannabis. Synthetic drug abuse and in particular pethidine have also been reported; 50 per cent of the abusers are women with a high concentration in the 40 and over age group (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            The lifetime prevalence of drug abuse in the former FRG was found to be 16.3 per cent according to the same survey; 10.5 per cent abused cannabis, 1.8 per cent stimulants or hallucinogens, 0.8 per cent cocaine and 0.9 per cent opiates. The prevalence of drug abuse for 1990 is 4.8 per cent for the 12 to 39 years old age group; 3.9 per cent abused cannabis, 0.3 per cent cocaine, and 0.2 per cent opiates (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

                       Abuser Characteristics

For the former FRG, the above survey found that 19.7 per cent of the men compared to 12.8 per cent of the women had ever abused drugs. People older than 24 years old experienced with drugs more than younger people (18.6 per cent compared with 13.8 per cent). These age differences were very clear for stimulants and hallucinogens which were abused by 2.5 per cent of the older age group but only 1 per cent of the younger subjects. A higher frequency of consumption of opiates for the older ones (1.2 per cent) than the younger ones (0.5 per cent) was also found (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

                         Regional  Variations

Although drug abuse occurs in all parts of the country urban areas (such as Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, the Ruhr Valley and Frankfurt) have the greatest concentration of drug related problems (National Programme on Drug abuse Control 1990). In the new Federal States, consumption of cannabis in Brandenburg has noticeably increased, especially, in the larger cities (Postdam, for example). This region is increasing in significance due to its geographical proximity to Berlin and the increase in tourism in the region. Rostock is becoming the focal point of narcotic crime in the Meckelenburg-Western Pomerania region. Large cities of Saxony (Leipzig and Dresden) are also becoming focal points for drug trafficking (Bundeskriminalamt, 1992).


Survey data indicates to an increase in drug abuse life time prevalence in the former FRG, for those 12 to 29 of age, from 12.1 per cent in 1986 to 16.1 per cent in 1990. Whereas the 12-17 age group showed no significant increase, that of the 18 to 29 showed a disproportional increase (CMO 1990).

            The percentage of annual abusers (aged 12 to 29) increased from 4.5 per cent in 1986 to 6.2 per cent in 1990. There are nearly constant values for the group 12 to 17 years old but an increase for abusers 18 to 29 years of age (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Based on 1989 out-patient new admissions data, there is an increase in abuse of heroin and cocaine in the older age group (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            According to the response of Germany to the Annual Report Questionnaire for 1991, abuse of opiate, cocaine and cannabis type of drugs have shown some increase in 1991, while that of sedative types and volatile solvents has been on the decrease. Abuse of amphetamine types and hallucinogens are reported stable (U.N. 1991).

                             Mode of intake

Heroin is mainly injected. Cocaine is reported to be mainly sniffed, but also injected. Benzodiazepines and amphetamines are reported ingested. Amphetamine is also injected. Cannabis is smoked (U.N. 1991).



Drug related deaths. In 1990 a total of 1,478 drug related deaths were reported, compared to 670 in 1988 and 991 in 1989 (Germany 1991).

HIV seroprevalence/AIDS.  A study in 1988-1989 found a prevalence rate of 20 per cent seropositives in over 1,000 drug abusers. For West Berlin the figure is 26 per cent. A study in drug treatment centres revealed a 15 per cent prevalence (WHO 1991). Of 5,612 cases of AIDS in 1990, 13.44 per cent were intravenous drug abusers, 9.27 per cent males and 4.17 per cent females (Germany 1991).

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


                           National Strategy

The National Programme on Drug Abuse Control (NPDAC) was approved in June 1990. The NPDAC aims to reduce demand for drugs through prevention and public education, developing and improving services to drug abusers, promoting innovative approaches to treatment and rehabilitation, using therapy rather than punishment as to deal with drug addicts and increasing efforts to reduce illicit drug trafficking (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).


                           Treaty adherence

Germany is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol and to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.


                          Primary Prevention

The Federal Government of Germany made prevention the main focus of attention in it's 1990 NPDAC by increasing funding by 86 per cent, from 1.8 to 12.8 million marks. Prevention targets the general public, media representatives, young people, employers, members of judicial administration and school personnel among other specific groups (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Frequent public information campaigns are carried out by way of the media (television, radio, cinema ,newspapers and magazines advertisements), telephone counselling and information services, information stands at sports events, festivals or other special events, up to date address lists of facilities available for counselling, posters, travelling or permanent exhibitions (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).
            Special conferences, fact sheets and field trips are organized to sensitize the media to drug related issues and avoid over sensationalism of drug related stories (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

             Mobile Drug Prevention, a pilot programme, aims at those dealing with young people outside school, i.e., police, family counsellors, employees and parents. About 37 specialists work in drug counselling centres to support, coordinate and initiate prevention programmes. This project targets mainly rural areas and small towns (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Drug prevention is integrated in the syllabus of German schools as part of the health education. Every secondary school employ teachers specialized in the field of drug prevention (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).


                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

The National Programme on Drug Abuse Control promotes abstinence in a drug free society. Abstinence is, therefore, a prerequisite for out-patient and in-patient therapies and all programmes are drug free. Drug substitution therapy is permissible only in special cases under strict medical supervision and in conjunction with psycho-social care. (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            A total of 1,000 counselling centres and 3,000 specialized inpatient treatment centres operate nationwide. Federal pilot programmes include 14 outreach programmes for long term addicts, 38 in-patient crisis intervention facilities (caring for 39 per cent of all therapy patients), 12 special care housing centres, 12 outpatient treatment centres, 12 care and counselling centres which also includes AIDS immediate help programmes, AIDS and Children programmes and AIDS and Women programmes. Low-threshold services to reach as many dependent persons as possible are also in operation in areas most affected in cities. They provide short term shelter, meals, but also sterile syringes and condoms. Fifteen long term addicts are also spending a year with farming families (Germany 1992).


      Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

In 1990 a total of 58,423 persons were arrested for possession/abuse of illicit drugs and 34,279 for illicit drug trafficking. The greatest proportion of arrests for both possession/abuse and trafficking related to cannabis (33,025 and 17,401 respectively), followed by opiate type drugs (18,999 and 11,616 respectively), and cocaine type drugs (3,016 and 3,323 respectively). With respect to psychotropic substances, 3,383 persons were arrested for possession/abuse (1,762 stimulants, 1,391 depressants, 230 LSD) and 1,931 for trafficking (1,177 stimulants, 561 depressants and 201 LSD) (U.N. 1990).

            In 1992, 5,413 new abusers of opiates, psychotropic substances and other unspecified drugs came to the notice of the police, an increase of 16.3 per cent from 1991. The majority (4,091) are heroin abusers (an increase of 23 per cent from the previous year) followed by cocaine abuse (900), a decrease of 2.5 per cent for the same period, amphetamines (509), a decrease of 13 per cent, and LSD (67), a decrease of 38.5 per cent (Bundeskriminalamt, 1992). 


In 1990, 4,655 kg of cannabis resin and 8,985 kg herbal cannabis were seized (11,641 kg and 432 kg respectively in 1989). Heroin seizures increased to 847 kg (727 kg in 1989) and cocaine seizures totaled 2,474 kg (1,406 kg in 1989). Other reported seizures in 1990 were 44 kg opium (25 kg in 1989), 85 kg amphetamine (67 kg in 1989) and 14,332 LSD doses (10,574 in 1989) (U.N. 1990).

                      Supply Source of Drugs

Between June 1991 and June 1992, Turkey was the most important source of heroin: 2/3 of the total seized heroin were smuggled into Germany from or via Turkey. A route through the Czech and Slovak Republics gained importance for the traffic of heroin after the opening of the borders to the East and because of war disruption of traditional routes in the former Yugoslavia.

            Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and the Netherlands are the most important sources and transit countries for cocaine seized in Germany (Bundeskriminalamt, 1992).

                       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. 1988,1989,1991. Responses to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaires of the FRG and Former GDR for the years 1988, 1989 and 1991.

CMO 1990. Reply to UNDCP questionnaire concerning the first seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (CMO), 1990.

National Programme on Drug Abuse Control, 1990. Measures for drug abuse control and help for addicts and persons at risk. Federal Ministry for Health and Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Germany 1992. Statement of the German delegation to the 35th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 1992.

Bundeskriminalamt 1992. The situation on the drugs market from January 1 to June 30 1992. Federal republic of Germany, Bundeskriminalamt, Anti Drugs Division.

WHO 1991. AIDS among drug abusers in Europe, Review of recent developments, WHO.

Germany 1991. National Report of Germany to the First Pan-European Ministerial Conference on Co-Operation on illicit drug abuse problems. Oslo, 9-10 May 1991.