Ten deaths associated with drugs, six of which were attributed to direct overdoses, were recorded on the island in 2014, according to the latest European Drugs Report.
Some 160 deaths in total were officially recorded in Cyprus in the previous ten years. Heroin was responsible for the majority of those deaths.
According to the report, cannabis remained the most popular drug of choice among illicit drug users in Cyprus among the 14 to 64 age group, while the most widely used stimulant was cocaine with some 0.6 per cent of 15 to 34 year-olds admitting to using it in the last year, according to the most recent survey.
The European report on drugs was presented on Tuesday at a news conference held by the Cyprus Anti-Drugs Council and the National Documentation and Information Centre on Drugs.
It was also attended by Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis.
Head of the Council’s Monitoring and Documentation Department Ioanna Yiasemi said that the use of cannabis in Cyprus was similar to the general situation in Europe. Cyprus is one of the countries with the lowest rates of illicit drug use overall, although “there is an increase in the proportion of people reporting cannabis as the primary drug,” she said.
The use of cocaine in Cyprus was again among the lowest in prevalence in the general population with no significant change over previous reports. The number of criminal cases involving cocaine amounted to 107 with the weight of cocaine seized amounting to 31.75kg during the reporting period.
Methamphetamine use in Cyprus was at barely 0.4 per cent among those in the 15-34 age group but despite the low usage in recent years there is an increase in the number of people accessing treatment for the drug, the report found. The total number of meth users is said to be between 80 and 244 people.
Concerning opiates, heroin use is prevalent in Cyprus among foreign nationals, other EU citizens and third-country nationals, but usage by Greek Cypriots is significantly lower, the report showed. Seizures of heroin on the island are rare and declining over time.
Spokesperson of the Drug Enforcement Agency Stelios Sergides said that the constantly changing data related to the problem of illegal addictive substances required continuous monitoring to form an objective and comprehensive picture of the problem and reliably document it.
Addressing the press conference Pamborides said that combatting drug trade and use and protecting addicts were high on the government’s agenda, adding that the National Committee on Drugs, which is chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades, was working in that direction.
In Europe, Roland Simon, representing the European Monitoring Centre, said that in 2015 almost 1 per cent of adults in Europe said they used cannabis daily with addictive drug users reaching 22 million on a European basis while deaths from such substances in 2014 amounted to 6,800.
An equally challenging issue for international and European drug policies is how to respond effectively to the dynamic and constantly changing market for new drugs. Synthetic cannabinoids account for over 60 per cent of these, and this drug class also features prominently in the 98 new substances detected for the first time in 2015 and reported to the EU Early Warning System for new psychoactive substances.