An islandwide study is being conducted upon the initiative of the Cyprus National Addiction Authority and in cooperation with the University of Cyprus, with the aim of determining to determine the use of drugs during the pandemic lockdown, through samples taken from sewers in all cities of the government controlled areas.
President of the Cyprus National Addiction Authority, Dr Chrysanthos Georgiou, told CNA that the first results of the study should be expected in October and said that they will be particularly important, since, due to the lockdown, drug use was limited to the domestic population.
The conclusions that will be drawn, he added, will help authorities be better prepared and organised in the event of a second wave of the new coronavirus.
He said that apart from the fact that in times of crisis the use of substances records increase, this time there was an additional factor, that of confinement, which had not been studied before.
Georgiou pointed out that during the lockdown there was a huge problem with addictive substances, legal and illegal, throughout Europe and said that Cyprus was affected as well.
He told CNA that two tendencies were observed all over Europe, namely that drug prices were increased significantly and that users would buy large quantities in order to have a stock, which led to the increase of prices.
He added that no one knows for sure if the use of drugs was indeed up, but pointed out that all previous studies had shown that in times of crisis the drug use rises, and pointed out that the lockdown we experienced this year was particularly stressful for some people.
Georgiou said that Cyprus, just like other countries, had to adapt to the circumstances and give assistance to those affected, either by teleconference, or by substitute programs, or telephone help lines.
The calls that we received, he told CNA, were about abuse of legal substances, illegal substances and alcohol, and said that this was not a surprise as it is known that in times of a crisis the use of substances rises.
Furthermore, he referred to the increase of domestic violence cases during the lockdown.
He said that vulnerable groups are the ones who are mostly affected during a social crisis and added that the consequences of this crisis will continue in the coming years, as was the case back in 2013 during the economic crisis that hit Cyprus.
“Something similar will happen with the crisis we are experiencing today”, he went on to say, explaining that its direct repercussions can already be seen, including suicide cases, increased use of addictive substances, mental illnesses.
Concluding, he said that in the long term, the repercussions of this crisis will unfortunately be even worse.