Drug Abuse in the Global Village



Extent of Drug Abuse Cannabis is reported the most abused drug in Israel, with annual prevalence estimated at 1.4 per cent (U.N. 1991). According to a survey among Army personnel aged 18-21, cannabis is the second most abused drug with annual prevalence of abuse estimated at 2.9 per cent (U.N. 1992). Over 2 per cent of pupils and more than 4 per cent of adults abused cannabis "in the past month", according to a representative survey in Tel-Aviv and Jaffa (U.N. 1991).

Sedative-type drugs are the next most abused drugs, with annual prevalence estimated at 1.3 per cent (U.N. 1991). Sedative-type drugs are the most abused drugs according to the Army personnel survey. Annual prevalence of abuse is estimated at about 3.2 per cent (U.N. 1992). About 5 per cent of pupils and nearly 7 per cent of adults abused sleeping pills and tranquilizers "in the past month", according to a representative survey in Tel-Aviv and Jaffa (U.N. 1991).

Amphetamines, opiate-types, synthetic narcotic analgesics (methadone) and cocaine are the next most prevalent drugs abused. Annual prevalence is estimates at about 0.4 per cent for each drug. About 2 per cent of all pupils and nearly 1 per cent of all adults in a representative study in Tel-Aviv and Jaffa, abused at least one hard drug (LSD, opium, heroin, crack, cocaine or similar drugs) in "the last month" (U.N. 1991).

Inhalants are the most abused drug among youth aged 14-17, according to a survey among the Tel-Aviv and Jaffa population (U.N. 1991).

According to a 1990 survey, annual prevalence of abuse for any psychotropic substances by the jewish adult population was estimated at 6.8 per cent (CMO 1990).

Abuser Characteristics Drug abuse is reported more prevalent among males than females, with the exception of illicit abuse of medications which is more prevalent among females. The illicit abuse tends to rise with age until it reaches a peak at the 25-30 year group. In the higher age groups abuse declines slightly (CMO 1990). Drug abuse is reported more common among divorced and unmarried persons (U.N. 1992). According to a survey of the most densely populated areas of Israel, drug abuse is reported spreading to all layers of the population, independent of social strata (U.N. 1992).
Regional Variations From a survey of the pupils in the Tel-Aviv and Jaffa areas, it appears that drugs are more often found in the Arab sector (U.N. 1991). The religious sector is usually less exposed to drugs than the secular sector, however, it is not completely drug free (U.N. 1991).
Trends According to estimates from the police and the Anti-Drug Authority of Israel, the number of drug dependent abusers has grown from fewer than 5,000 a decade ago, to more than 30,000 today - nearly 1 per cent of the population (CND 1992). Some increase was reported in the abuse of heroin and cocaine in 1992 (U.N. 1992).

Mode of intake Although some opiate-type drugs are reported to be injected, intravenous drug abuse is rare in Israel. No unusual mode of intake is reported: heroin is smoked and synthetic narcotic analgesics are ingested. Amphetamines and sedatives (barbiturates, benziodazepines and others) are also ingested. Cannabis is smoked and cocaine is sniffed (U.N. 1991, 1992). Some drugs are taken in combination with others, often mixed with sedative- and amphetamine-types (U.N. 1992).


In 1990, 104 opiate related deaths were reported, and 89 cases of death due to overdose. Another 43 cases of death due to heroin overdose were also reported (U.N. 1990). Monthly costs for treatment of drug dependent abusers is estimated as follows: US$1,200 per patient in therapeutic communities, US$200 per patient in community treatment programmes, US$1,800 per patient in detoxification units, and US$100 per patient in methadone maintenance programmes. Those who are not insured by the national security insurance are not entitled to financial support (U.N. 1992).


National Strategy In 1987, the government of Israel proposed the establishment of the Anti-Drug Authority (ADA). It was established by law in the end of 1988, under the direct responsibility of the Prime Minister. ADA's mandate includes formulating comprehensive nationwide policies in all the areas of the fight against drug abuse, promoting and expanding the network of intervention services and coordinating public awareness and prevention activities. All efforts of governmental, non-governmental and public agencies and institutions are joined in the campaign against drug abuse (CND 1992, U.N. 1992).  The Ministry of Education is in charge of prevention programmes at schools (U.N. 1992).
Structure of National Drug Control Organs The central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy is Anti-Drug Authority of Israel (ADA), an independent Government unit.


Treaty adherence Israel is party to the 1961 Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the 1971 Convention. It signed the 1988 Convention in December 1988 and has taken steps aimed at bringing domestic legislation in line with the Convention, particularly laws on confiscation of money and all other assets obtained directly or indirectly from a drug-related crime. Legislation has also been prepared in the area of international cooperation.
Measures taken with respect to Drug Control
Recently enacted laws and regulations: In December 1991, an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance was enacted, according to which the court receives additional powers to disqualify a drug-user from holding a driver's license or receiving one.
Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution: There is a government-controlled licensing system for both narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. No manufacture of either narcotic drugs or psychotropic substance was reported for 1991.
Control system: 1. Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
2. Warnings on packages: The law requires warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
3. Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported. Ecstasy was included as an illicit drug in the drugs ordinance.
4. Other administrative measures: None reported.
Social Measures
Penal Sanctions related to social measures: In 1991, courts applied measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence both as an alternative and in addition to conviction or punishment. The court has the power to issue a probation order to a drug-user. Under this order, the drug-user is required to undergo treatment within the community in accordance with a programme set by the court. The order may be issued with or without a conviction. During 1990, 300 addicts were sentenced to probation, as an alternative to conviction or punishment. No figures were reported.
Other social measures: In 1991, legislation regulating the licensing of monitoring of institutions treating drug abusers was being prepared.


Primary Prevention: In 1989, prevention activities began in secondary schools and drug education was included as part of the curricula. In 1990 prevention activities began among higher education institutions and, in 1992, prevention activities began among one experimental group of primary schools. Over the 1990/1991 school year, 475 of Israel's 600 high schools implemented a substance abuse programme. Programmes undertaken in the schools include discussions, films, lectures and shows in high schools, youth anti-drug assemblies and peer counselling (where students who are trained in drug prevention provide programmes for their peers). Programmes of prevention and alternative activities are developed for school drop-outs, arab, bedouin and druse populations. There are also special programmes for religious students, soldiers and new immigrants. Exclusive training programmes are organized for teachers and counselors, and parents meetings and workshops are also organized (U.N. 1992, Ministry of Police 1993).

Workshops, lectures and material on prevention is offered in the workplace (factories, industries, government officers, port workers). Drug tests are obligatory in the IDF (Israel Defense Force), but no other occupational group is randomly tested. However, no laws specifically forbid nor require the testing of employees for illicit drugs (U.N. 1992).
Basic training in drug prevention is part of the education programmes of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health workers, social workers and criminologists. Further training programmes are offered to social workers and teachers (U.N. 1992).
The media has been active in promoting drug prevention messages to the youth and wide audience since 1989 (U.N. 1992).

Treatment and Rehabilitation Treatment and rehabilitation is a part of the holistic approach to the drug abuse problem (side by side with prevention, law enforcement, community action, human resources development, etc). Treatment and rehabilitation is run in an integrated fashion based on medical and psycho-social treatment at the local, regional and national levels. The programmes are based on individual diagnosis assessing the patient's surroundings and their ability and motivation to cooperate with the programme. Programmes deal with the drug abusers and their family (U.N. 1992). In 1992, a total of 2,875 patients were treated in 44 facilities, including 28 community programmes, 7 methadone maintenance facilities, 4 specialized detoxification facilities, 3 non-hospital residential units and 2 facilities within prisons. Over 90 per cent of the patients treated were male. About 60 per cent of the prison population are drug abusers (70 per cent male), and all prisons offer abusers general medical care. In some prisons there are detoxification programmes, counselling on drug and drug related diseases, vocational training, general education, social reintegration and after care (U.N. 1992, CMO 1991).
Services are offered to help in the social reintegration of people who have undergone treatment and rehabilitation programmes, including special assistance in finding employment and accommodation, training opportunities, counselling services for ex-abusers and their families and half-way houses (U.N. 1992).


Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences: A total of 6,062 people were arrested for illict drug possession and 1,994 were arrested for illicit drug trafficking in 1989. In the same year, 1,332 people were convicted for illict drug possession (93 per cent male, 67 per cent over 25 years of age) and 1,061 people were convicted for illicit drug trafficking (94 per cent male, 70 per cent over 25 years of age) (U.N. 1989).
Seizures: The quantity of drugs seized in 1989 amounted to 92 kg of heroin, 6 tonnes of cannabis and 4 kg of cocaine. According to police estimates, though, the quantites which actually penetrated the country were much higher than the amount seized. Estimates from the Israel Anti-Drug Authority is as follows: 3000 kg of heroin, 52 tonnes of cannabis and 240-300 kg of cocaine (U.N. 1989). In 1991, 111 kg of cannabis plants, 1.3 tonnes of cannabis resin, 13 kg of cocaine (base and salts) and 52 kg of heroin were seized. In 1990, 21 kg of opium raw and prepared were seized (Other 1990, 1991).
Supply Source of Drugs: Most of the cannabis found in Israel originates in Lebanon and is smuggled across the northern border. Heroin reaches Israel from three main sources: Lebanon via the northern border, Southwest Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) via Turkey or Western Europe and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos and Burma) via Europe or directly. Cocaine comes from South America directly or indirectly via the U.S. or Europe. LSD and amphetamines are imported from Europe and the U.S. A laboratory manufacturing amphetamines for local consumption was discovered in Tel-Aviv in 1991 (CND 1993).


Estimated population:                                                      7 million (2007)
Life expectancy at birth:                                                    years (1990)
Annual population growth rate:                                         ...% (1960-1990)
                                                                                                % (1990-2000)
Urban population                                                                   %  (1990)
Real GDP per capita:                                                  PPP$ (1988)
Adult literacy Rate (male):                                        
Adult literacy Rate (female):                                     
Primary enrolment:                                                      
Mean years of schooling:                                                        %(1980)
Population per doctor:                                                 (1984)
Population per nurse (1984-1989):                         
Population with access to
 health services:                                                          
Radios (per 1,000 people):                                    
Daily newspaper circulation
 (per 1,000 people):                                                          
Televisions (per 1,000 people):                                              
Human Development Index:                                                  (1991)
(Ref: -----)

References and Notes
U.N. 1989-1992. Replies to Annual Reports Questionnaire.

CMO, 1989-1991. Replies to the questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multi-disciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control.

CND 1992. Country Statement by the  Delegate of Israel. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Thirty Fifth Session. United Nations Economic and Social Council, Vienna.

CND 1993. Country Statement  by the Delegate of Israel. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Thirty Sixth Session. United Nations Economic and Social Council. Vienna.

Ministry of Police, 1993. Resolution no. C.13: Measures against Drug Addiction. 1990-1993 Landmarks.

Other 1990, 1991. Obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by the Government or from other official sources for the years 1990 and 1991.

* 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 1989 through 1991.
The general background information is taken from: Human Development Report 1993, published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York, Oxford University Press, Demographic Yearbook, New York, United Nations 1993.