Drugs in the Global Village

Middle East Regional Report

Abusers Characteristics



Most of the heroin abusers are male, between 20-35 years of age. They are reported to belong to the low and middle income class (U.N. 1990).


According to reports, most abusers are males between 20-40 years of age. Only 5 cases of female abusers were reported among registered opium abusers (U.N. 1989).

Drug abusers in Egypt are reported most likely married; professional workers also have a high incidence of abuse (U.N. 1989).


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


Drug abuse is mainly reported among men, while abuse among women is rare. According to the latest surveys, abuse has increased among drivers, particularly inner-city drivers (U.N. 1990). Opium abuse is reported often among middle and older age groups, and farmers (U.N. 1990). Heroin abuse is more common among the youth, young businessmen and workers (U.N. 1990). Cannabis abuse is more frequent among youths (U.N. 1990).


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).


Abusers are reported between 20-45 years of age (U.N. 1991).


Most drug abusers are unemployed with medium to low levels of education (CMO 1990). According to 1989 data most drug dependent abusers are unemployed with a small proportion of abusers among workers (CMO 1989). Among the working sector, taxi and lorry drivers are considered to be at risk (CMO 1991).


The average age of heroin abusers is 27.5 years, which is the lowest for all drug users. For cannabis abusers, the average age is 29.7 years. The average age of opium abusers is higher, at 34 years. In most provinces the starting age of abuse was between 16-20 years (43 per cent) (Fourth National Survey 1989).

Generally, drug abusers are reported uneducated, and with a low literacy rate. In urban areas about half of the abusers were married and half single, while about 60 per cent of the abusers in rural areas were single (Fourth National Survey 1989). About 82 per cent of the abusers are employed or have some source regular of income. Heroin and cannabis abusers are reported mostly among labourers, transport workers and shopkeepers. Opium is also abused by laborers and shopkeepers, and is ranked as the preferred drug among farmers. Nearly 8 per cent of all drug dependent abusers are students, half of which are heroin abusers (Fourth National Survey 1989).

About 90 per cent of drug abusers are men, according to a 1986 survey. The majority are from the lower middle class, though abuse has spread among middle- and upper-class youth as well (ESCAP 1991).


Drug abuse in Qatar is reported more common among males aged 20-35, who have little education (CMO 1990). Most heroin abusers are male (1 per cent female), and most are in the 20-30 age range. Abuse is more common among single and unemployed persons (U.N. 1990). About half of the benzodiazepine abusers are female, and most abusers are between 30-40 years of age. Abuse is most common among married housewives (U.N. 1990). Drug abuse among the youth is most common among those who lacked parental supervision, as well as among victims of excessive spoiling or harshness. About 90 per cent belong to families or family groups of which at least one person is a drug abuser (CMO 1990).


All drug abusers in Saudi Arabia are male (U.N. 1990). Most abusers are reported between 20-40 years of age, laborers and uneducated individuals. About 60 per cent of the abusers are unmarried (U.N. 1988).


Most abusers are between 20-45 years of age, with the exception of cannabis and amphetamine abusers who are reported of different ages (U.N. 1992).

Heroin abuse is reported more common among the middle class population, and cocaine abuse is more frequent among the wealthy (U.N. 1990).

References and notes

See specific country reports