Drug Abuse in the Global Village






Extent of Drug Abuse: Cannabis is reported the most abused drug in Syria. Annual abuse is estimated at 2,041 abusers (U.N. 1992).

Heroin is the next most prevalent drug abused with annual abuse estimated at 1,040 abusers (U.N. 1992).

Other drugs abused include cocaine (87 cases), amphetamines (75 cases), opiates (25 cases) and sedatives (12 cases) (U.N. 1992).

Abuser Characteristics: 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).

Regional Variations: Heroin and cocaine abuse is reported more common in the urban areas, while cannabis abuse is more frequent in rural areas and underdeveloped environments (U.N. 1990).

Trends: Some increase was reported in the abuse of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and cocaine, in 1989. Amphetamine abuse was reported stable in 1992, and cocaine abuse stabilized over the 1990-1992 period. Some increase was reported in heroin abuse in 1990 and 1992. Some decrease was reported in the abuse of inhalants in 1989, followed by some increase in 1990 and 1992. Opium abuse has remained stable over the 1989-1992 period, with some decrease reported in 1991. Cannabis abuse has remained stable over the 1989-1992 period (U.N. 1898-1992).

Mode of intake: Heroin and opiate-type codeine are both injected and sniffed. Opium and amphetamines are ingested and cocaine is sniffed (U.N. 1990, 1992).




Ten cases of HIV infection and two cases of AIDS were reported in 1992 (U.N. 1992).





National Strategy: The National Commission on Narcotic Drugs, comprising representatives from many ministries, is responsible for providing preventive and curative plans related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance abuse (U.N. 1992).




Treaty adherence: Syria is party to the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.



Primary Prevention: Basic training in drug education is part of the education programme of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health workers and social workers. Further training is also part of the programmes for doctors and pharmacists (U.N. 1992). Drug education is part of the school curricula (grades 2 and 3) although the percentage enrolled is very small. No preventive programmes and activities were reported as available for any target groups (CMO 1991).

Treatment and Rehabilitation: No treatment programmes were reported as available for the drug dependent abusers. Treatment is available, however, to the drug abusers in prisons (7.25 per cent of the population). All prisons provide general medical care, counselling on drugs and drug related diseases, and some prisons also provide, vocational training and general education (CMO 1991).




Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences: A total of 1,556 people were arrested for illicit drug possession (82 per cent cannabis possession) and 1,634 people were arrested for illicit drug trafficking (70 per cent cannabis traffickers) (U.N. 1989).

Seizures: In 1991, about 122 tonnes of cannabis resin, 12.5 kg of cocaine base and salts, 78.5 kg of heroin and 369,073 units of stimulants were seized (Other 1991).

Supply Source of Drugs: No information reported by 31st December 1993.


References and notes

U.N., 1989-1992. Replies to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire. 

CMO 1991. Replies to the questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control.


Other 1991. Obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by the Government or from other official sources for the year 1991.

** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was not available by 15th January 1994.