Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

Cannabis is the most prevalent drug abused daily (500 abusers), followed by Cocaine (100 to 160 abusers), benzodiazepines and minor tranquilizers (150 abusers), amphetamines (100 abusers), sedative hypnotics (70 abusers), hallucinogens (20 abusers), synthetic narcotics (20 abusers), inhalants (10 abusers), heroin and other opiates (about 5 to 10 each) (U.N. 1989).

                       Abuser Characteristics

Men abuse sedatives more than women (70 per cent), especially those between 20 and 40 years old  and elderly 70 to 85 years of age. Heroin abuse is more prevalent among men (65 per cent), especially those 10 to 20 years of age (U.N. 1989). Similarly, amphetamine abuse is more prevalent among men (80 per cent), 20 to 40 years of age. Cocaine abuse is more prevalent among the wealthy. Cannabis abuse is more prevalent among the 18 to 35 age group and women make up 45 per cent of the abusers (U.N. 1989).

                         Regional  Variations

No information reported by 31st December 1993.


In 1988, the abuse of sedatives, heroin, amphetamines and cannabis were reported stable, whereas some increase in cocaine abuse was noted (U.N. 1989)

                             Mode of intake

Sedatives, heroin and amphetamines are injected. Amphetamines and sedatives are also ingested. Cocaine is sniffed. Heroin is reported taken in combination with other drugs and sedatives are taken with alcohol (U.N. 1989).


The average cost of treatment is around 200 US$ per addict for a 6 weeks treatment course (U.N. 1989).

            AIDS among drug abusers. No AIDS cases have been reported in Iceland as of June 1993 (AIDS in Europe 1993).


                           National Strategy

No information regarding the national strategy of Iceland is reported in Annual Reports Questionnaire by 31st December 1993. However, a Ministerial Committee on drug related issues is reported to be carrying out preventive activities (CMO 1989).

      Structure of National Drug Control Organs

The central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy is the Ministerial Committee on Drug Abuse, located within the Ministry of Health.


                           Treaty adherence

Iceland is party to the 1961 Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the 1971 Convention.

    Measures taken with respect to Drug Control

Recently enacted laws and regulations:
None reported.

Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution:
There is a government-controlled licensing system. No psychotropic substances and narcotic drugs were reported being manufactured in 1991.

Control system:
(i) Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(ii) Warnings on packages: The law does not require warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(iii) Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported.
(iv) Other administrative measures: None reported.

                            Social Measures

Penal Sanctions related to social measures: In 1989, courts applied measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence neither as an alternative nor in addition to conviction or punishment.

Other social measures: A treatment home for young adults aged 12-17 was established in 1989.


                          Primary Prevention

Prevention through the educational system is funded by the International Lions Movement. Health and social services, parent associations and the Ministerial Committee on drug related issues carry out preventive activities (CMO 1989).

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment consists of traditional psychiatric methods, alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous programmes, long term care and religion. In 1989 a total of 395 patients were undergoing drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation, a quarter were undergoing treatment for the first time. The number of patients in treatment was 300 for cannabis, 20 opiates, 5 cocaine and 70 psychotropic substances. All 5 cocaine addicts were first time patients. Relapse rate one year after treatment was 35 per cent for all types of abused drugs (CMO 1989; U.N. 1989).


      Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

The latest available data regarding arrests and convictions relates to 1987 (U.N. 1987). During that year there were a total of 727 arrests for possession and/or abuse (of which 250 were convicted (180 males and 70 females)) and 115 for trafficking (30 convicted, 20 males, 10 females) (U.N. 1987).


Governmental sources reported 11.327 kg herbal cannabis, 58 units cannabis plants, 31 units cannabis seeds and 44 grams of cocaine seized in 1991 (INCB 1991).

                      Supply Source of Drugs

Drugs seized are smuggled into Iceland by air from the Netherlands and Denmark or by ship from Germany (U.N. 1987).

                       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 1988-89.

U.N. 1989. Reply to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire for the year 1989.

CMO 1989. Reply to the UNDCP questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (CMO), 1989.

INCB 1991. Data received from Governments to the International narcotics Control Board for the year 1991.

AIDS in Europe 1993. AIDS surveillance in Europe, Quarterly Report No.38, 30 June 1993.