NEWS

More teens trying illegal drugs

Greece will launch a campaign aimed at fighting youth drug abuse after recent data showed some disturbing trends, such as that the number of high school students experimenting with illegal drugs more than doubled in the last 10 years, according government statistics. Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and Education Minister Marietta Giannakou announced yesterday the start of a coordinated anti-drug campaign program ahead of International Day against Drugs on Sunday. Some 70,000 teenagers between the ages of 14 to 17, or one in 10, have used an illegal addictive substance, with cannabis ranking among the favorites. Nearly 200,000 students of the same age drink alcohol two or three times a week, while a growing number of young people associate having a good time with amphetamines or cocaine. The government campaign will include training teachers on detecting drug abuse and distributing information on drugs at schools. Support centers will also be set up at all of the country’s universities. Giannakou pointed out the growing role schools have in dealing with such issues. «The family used to be the safe place (for teenagers), more authoritarian in its structure, but safer. Today a lot of issues have been shifted to the school environment,» she said. Despite the reputation Greeks have as ranking among the heaviest smokers in Europe, teenagers are taking to the habit at slower rates than in other European Union countries. Three in 10 14-year-olds have smoked tobacco at least once while 24.6 percent of teenagers have at least one cigarette a day.