Cyprus: Results from the latest survey on drug use among student and adult population.

The Cyprus Anti-Drug Council conducts an annual report (every three years) that includes a general population survey (age range 15-64 years) and a pan-European student population survey conducted every four years, for the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (age range 15-16 years) (ESPAD).

The Annual report of the Cyprus Anti-Drug Council (CAC) which has been released today, demonstrates that there has been a downwards trend in heroin use, but an upward trend in cannabis use. According to the recent survey of ‘Drug use among General and Student population’ the largest percentage of people requesting treatment for addiction to drugs in Cyprus are cannabis users (57%), followed by heroin users (22%). The results of the general population survey coincide with this trend: cannabis remains the most widespread illicit drug use in the general population, and it is more pronounced at ages 18-22 years. The use of cannabis for men at these ages occurs mainly during army service, while for women this tends to occur at university. In relation to the general situation in Europe, Cyprus is among the countries with the lowest rates of use of illicit substances.

Changes in treatment demands in Cyprus

In Cyprus, drug users have been in need of treatment that mainly corresponds to opioid drug use addiction (e.g. ‘Oxycodone). More specifically, in 2012, 33 people (3%) received treatment for opioid drugs other than heroin, while in 2013 the number of opioid users rose to 48. Similarly, in 2014, 60 people (4.6%) received treatment for opioid drugs with the primary drug being ‘Oxycodone’ and 15 people (1.2%) received treatment for other opioid drugs. Treatment demands for methamphetamine use is also on the rise. The numbers of users requesting treatment due to use of methamphetamine amounts to 4% of those who seek drug treatment. From 27 users requesting methamphetamine treatment in 2013, the numbers have now almost doubled to amount to 50 users seeking methamphetamine treatment in 2014. Finally, cocaine accounts for 10% of drug users who sought drug treatment in 2014 in Cyprus.

Cyprus is amongst the EU countries with the lowest rates of illicit substances

Regarding illegal addictive substances, nine out of ten students in Cyprus reported that they had not ever used such substances. This places Cyprus among the EU countries with the lowest rates of use of illicit substances.

It is acknowledged that injecting drug users (IDUs) increase the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV. The situation in Cyprus as it stood in 2014 was such that 49 of 109 injecting drug users (IDUs), examined were found positive for Hepatitis C. Although there is a significant proportion of IDUs, very few are referred to for examination and therefore the diagnosis of infectious diseases is estimated to be very low.

Since 2004, the starting year of follow-up by the European National Focal Point, there were 160 deaths in Cyprus directly or indirectly caused by drug use. In 2014 the numbers have recorded 10 deaths, mainly due to opioids such as ‘Oxycodone’. This represents a micro-scale of the situation in Europe where it has been estimated that there were at least 6,100 deaths from overdoses, mostly due to heroin and other opioids.