Cannabis use in Cyprus in 2021 increased, whereas cocaine use decreased, the annual report presented by the Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) on Tuesday showed.
“The development of a strategy to target drug addiction and abuse is an absolute priority for the state, which needs to play an active role in combating the issue,” director general of the health ministry Christina Yiannaki said.
The event was also attended by Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, Bishop Isaias of Tamassos, deputy chief of police Demitris Demetriou and the Ykan drug squad chief Michalis Kastsounotos.
Yiannaki said that the annual NAAC budget for 2021 amounted to €2.3 million and said that further plans are being drawn up for an action plan on the issue.
“We are focusing on prevention, early interventions and specialised treatment programmes,” she said.
NAAC president Christos Minas added that the reintegration of people suffering from drug addiction into society needs to play a key role.
“Drug addicts have the same rights as anyone else. They are no different from anyone and we need to fight to root out social exclusion and marginalisation,” he said.
“People fighting drug addiction should have access to treatment programmes. It has been proved that addiction leads to impoverishment, but addicts should be treated as patients, not as criminals.”
Regarding the growing use of cannabis in Cyprus, Minas said the issue is being carefully studied on the island, as well as at an international level, adding that the trend is shifting towards decriminalising the use of the substance.