Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

According to an official report, the wide abuse of illicit drugs in Turkey is attributed mainly to low price of illicit drugs (U.N. 1991).

            Volatile substances are sold in Turkey without any control (U.N. 1991).

            The annual prevalence of drug abuse is not reported. Registered drug abusers (data to be verified) are reported as 2000 for cannabis, 1000 for heroin, 700 for sedative hypnotic, 500 for inhalants, 110 for benzodiazepines and minor tranquilizers, 40 for hallucinogens and 20 for cocaine (U.N. 1989).

            Based on a sample survey of 150 abusers, opiates are the most abused drugs in Turkey followed by cannabis and volatile substances (Ergil, Dogu 1993). The drug abuse patterns of the sample survey are shown in table 1.

Table 1. Percentage of illicit drugs in survey sample of drug dependent persons, 1993.
Drug used       First drug ever used               Present drug used
                  6.0%                                29.4%
Tranquilizers         16.8%                              11.8%
Stimulants (Cocaine,
 amphetamines)     2.0%                                 4.4%
Cannabis                61.7%                              27.9%
Volatile solvents   13.4%                              26.5%
Total                     100%                               100%
Source: Ergil, Dogu 1993. Survey on the Profile of Drug Addiction and Resistance in Turkey, Report One, Dr. Dogu Ergil, 1993, Ankara.

                       Abuser Characteristics

According to the above survey, drug abusers tend to be males (94.7%), 30 years of age or older (46.7%), (14-19 years of age 11.3%, 20-24 19.3%, 25-29 22.7%), primary school education 50% and university graduates 20%. Sixty per cent were single, 91.7% were doing daily transitory work. Most drug abusers were dependent on their families. Drug abusers' families tended to be more loosely knit. Drug abusers also tend to be geographically mobile (Ergil, Dogu 1993).

            According to 1989 official information, most abusers of heroin are in the 18-25 age group, cocaine in the 25-30 age range, cannabis in the 18-25 age group and volatile substances in the 12-18 age group (U.N. 1989).

                         Regional  Variations

Volatile substances are abused mainly in Istanbul (U.N. 1991) but is also prevalent in rural areas. Heroin is abused mainly in urban areas, especially in South, East and Southwest Anatolia. Cannabis is abused both in urban and rural areas, but is more common in Marmara, and South-east and Eastern Turkey. Cocaine is abused mainly in urban areas (U.N. 1989).


Some increase in the abuse of volatile substances has been reported for the years 1989 and 1990, while large increase was reported for 1991. The abuse of opiates has shown some increase during 1989, 1990 and 1991. Cocaine abuse increased during the year 1989 while it remained stable in 1991. Cannabis abuse showed some increase during 1991 (U.N. 1989; 1990; 1991).

                             Mode of intake

Cocaine is sniffed while heroin is injected or sniffed. Cannabis is smoked and volatile substances are sniffed or inhaled (U.N. 1989).

            Cannabis is reported taken in combination with alcohol. Cocaine and benzodiazepines are reported taken in combination with opiates and alcohol and heroin are taken in combination with cocaine (U.N. 1991).

            Alcohol consumption among drug abusers is higher than in the general population (57% compared to 45.6% in non drug abusers). The same may be said for tobacco consumption (97.% compared to 69.1% in non drug abusers). Opiates are mainly injected (65%) by drug dependent persons according to the 1993 sample survey and tranquilizers and stimulants ingested (Ergil, Dogu 1993). The survey results regarding mode of intake are shown in table 2.


Table 2. Mode of intake of illicit drugs in sample survey, 1993.
Drug type       Inhalation Ingested   Subcutaneous      Intravenous           Total
                                                            injection               injection
Opiates                  35%          -                 5%                  60%                        29.4%
Tranquilizers         12.5%        87.5%        -                     -                              11.8%
Stimulants              33.3%        66.7%        -                     -                              4.4%
Cannabis                100%         -                 -                     -                              27.9%
 substances            100%         -                 -                     -                              26.5%
Total                      67.6%        13.2%        1.5%               17.6%                     100%
Source: Ergil, Dogu 1993. Survey on the Profile of Drug Addiction and Resistance in Turkey, Report One, Dr. Dogu Ergil, 1993, Ankara.


The government has not undertaken any special measures to assess the direct and indirect financial costs of drug abuse (U.N. 1990).

            In 1991, 1 drug related death was reported by governmental sources (U.N. 1991).

            According to the 1993 sample survey, 24.5% of the drug abusers had attempted suicide at least once (compared to 2% of the non drug abusers). Women had a higher percentage of drug-related suicide attempts than males. Further, 32% of drug abusers had reported a criminal record. Two percent had a record for selling drugs, 12.7% for drug abuse, 2.7% for theft, 4% for armed assault and 6% for miscellaneous offences (Ergil, Dogu 1993).

            Among the 108 AIDS cases reported in June 1993, 15 (13.9%) were among injecting drug abusers (AIDS 1993). Needle sharing among injecting drug abusers is reported very common (U.N. 1991).


                           National Strategy

There are no national preventive programmes in Turkey (CMO 1991).

            Turkey is cooperating with Italy on a regional drug law enforcement information network (Turkey 1992).

            Turkey is cooperating with the Netherlands, Germany and the USA regarding illicit trafficking on the Balkan route (Turkey 1991).


                           Treaty adherence

Turkey is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.


                          Primary Prevention

National Education Department organizes drug education programmes for specific drugs aimed at the group abusing it (U.N. 1990).

            Some programmes on drug education are provided through the mass media aimed at adolescents and their parents (U.N. 1989).

            Basic training on drug prevention is provided to doctors, social workers, law enforcement personnel and psychologists. Occasional newspaper articles regarding drug abuse are published (CMO 1991).

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

In 1991, only one treatment centre was in operation (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Research and Treatment Centre, opened in 1983) and 1391 patients were in treatment. Maintenance programmes are used for all drug type addictions, detoxification for opiate addictions (CMO 1991).

            There are no social reintegration programmes in operation in Turkey (CMO 1991).


       Arrests, convictions and types of offences

In 1991, 2229 drug related arrests were reported. Of these, the majority related to cannabis (1519), followed by heroin (522), stimulants (120), cocaine (40), opium (18) and morphine (10). A total of 818 persons were convicted, 447 for possession and 371 for trafficking (U.N. 1990).


In 1990, 12,010.653 kg of cannabis herb, 1,525,637 units of cannabis plants, 6096.240 kg of cannabis resin and 1039.580 kg of heroin were seized along with 1.239 kg of cocaine, 434 kg of morphine, 3.556 kg of opium and 7006 units of stimulants (U.N. 1990). The seizures for 1991 were 1,895,270 units of cannabis plants, 6772.682 kg of cannabis resin, 50.860 kg of cannabis seeds and 1351.102 kg of heroin in addition to 1.270 kg of cocaine, 148.656 kg of morphine, 68.662 kg of opium and 129,527 units of stimulants (U.N. 1991).

            During 1991, 46 Turkish trucks were intercepted and 1871 kg of heroin was seized by West European authorities (Heroin 1992).

                      Supply Source of Drugs

Opium and heroin seized in 1991 originated from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 90% of the cannabis resin came from Lebanon and the seized morphine came from Iran. (U.N. 1991).

            Turkish criminal groups are reported to monopolise the heroin traffic along the Balkan route to West European countries (Heroin 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. 1989,1990,1991. Responses to the UNDCP Annual Report Questionnaires for the years 1989, 1990 and 1991.

AIDS Report 1993. AIDS Surveillance in Europe, Quarterly Report No.38, June 1993.

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

Ergil, Dogu 1993. Survey on the Profile of Drug Addiction and Resistance in Turkey, Report One, Dr. Dogu Ergil, 1993 Ankara.

Heroin 1992. Heroin Seizures - A Summary Report, 1992.

Turkey 1991. CND 1991 Country Statement.

Turkey 1992. CND 1992 Country Statement, February 1993.