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Our View: An honest approach to drug use would be better than scaremongering

THE LATEST report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), warned that use of crystal methamphetamine (known as crystal meth and popularised by the television series Breaking Bad) was an emerging problem in Cyprus. While conceding that use was limited, the report claimed there was a danger that use could spread among vulnerable groups of the population.

This was the only minus point in the report about Cyprus, where the number of drug deaths remained stable and well below the European average. There had been five drug deaths recorded in 2012 and the drug-induced death rate among adults for the year was 8.2 per million, significantly lower than the European rate of 17.1 per million. This should silence the Cypriot alarmist, do-gooders that made a career out of grossly exaggerating drug use and predicting social breakdown and death.

There is drug use and drug addiction in Cyprus as there is in most countries, but nowhere near the extent to which the doomsayers have been claiming. According to the EMCDDA report, while cannabis was the most prevalent drug, its use had gone down, at least in the 15 to 34 age group – whereas in 2009 use was at 7.9 per cent in 2012 it stood at 4.2 per cent. Even the increase in requests for treatment, for cannabis addiction, was related to the police practice of not prosecuting drug users that agreed to undergo ‘addiction treatment’. Most young people caught by the police choose treatment, even if they regard it as a bit of a joke, over prosecution and a criminal record.

Commenting on the report yesterday, an official of the National Centre for Documentation and Information about Drugs noted that in Cyprus requests for treatment for heroin addiction had decreased and so had other drug-related indicators. This is welcome news that should silence the alarmists, who cause more harm than good to the fight against drugs with their lies, exaggerations and popular myths.

There is no big drug problem in Cyprus as they have been claiming while cannabis use is something that we have to learn to live with. Still young people should be made aware of the risks of using cannabis, especially now that much stronger variations of the drug are available. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom said she was deeply concerned that the “cannabis and ecstasy sold on the street are getting stronger.”

This is the type of information that should be given to youngsters to build their awareness and to protect them, but it should be scientific and objective, instead of the scare stories and lies that campaigners served in the past. If the authorities and campaigners adopt the honest approach in explaining the dangers of using crystal meth, the problem will be easily contained.

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