Even though nine in ten Cypriots are not drug users, the economic crisis and high unemployment has led many young people into depression and the use of drugs, the head of the Cyprus Anti Drugs Council Chrysanthos Georgiou said on Saturday.
Speaking at the 21st conference organised by non-governmental organisation against addictions KENTHEA in cooperation with the University of Cyprus and the National Guard, Georgiou said that Cyprus has the lowest numbers of drug users in the EU.
But he said, today drugs are cheaper, more addictive and more harmful and that effective prevention and treatment required cooperation of the community, the Church, stakeholders and state services.
According to the head of KENTHEA Tamasos Bishop Isaias, the use of addictive substances was increasing.
Based on the data available to KENTHEA, he said, the use of such substance was more widespread, while the age at which people became users had lowered.
He added that cannabis use was more widespread and “causes psychoses faster, as well as other psychological problems”.
Overconsumption of alcohol among teenagers showed another upward trend which was not observed ten years ago, Isaias said, while a 2012 survey showed that there is increased dependence in alcohol and drugs in refugee housing estates.
As regards heroin, he said, a significant reduction in its use had been recorded, however around 15 people per year die directly or indirectly due to the use of cocaine, cannabis and other substances.
The aim of KENTHEA was to stop many addicts being sent to jail. He said that in agreement with the drug squad, users up to 24 years old would be given treatment “and a second chance instead of being sent to court”.
The Vice Rector of the University of Cyprus Constantinos Constantinou said that KENTHEA and the university had been working together since 2011, providing support to those in need. He said that the two organisations were trying to build partnerships.
The Chief of the National Guard lieutenant general Georgios Basiakoulis said that as regards drug use, “each conscript should receive specialised treatment since everyone has a unique personality and particular conditions and circumstances”. The goal, he said, was to reduce drug dependence, with a vision to eliminate it, and the message sent being sent was: “clean service, clean studies, clean life.”