For addicts, substance abuse starts early

Fewer Greeks use drugs than they did five years ago, but more drug addicts are dying and more teenagers are experimenting with drugs and hard liquor, according to recent research on the issue. Survey data collected by the National Center for Documentation and Information on Narcotics and Addiction show a dark side to a generally promising picture for managing drug abuse in Greece. For instance, far fewer young people admitted to having used drugs over the past six years than previously. Just 12 percent of 18- and 24-year-olds said they used drugs in 2004, compared to 21 percent in 1998. Here’s the bad news: More people in Greece died because of drug abuse in 2003, and more people became addicted to heroin. And even though drug rehabilitation and detoxification programs in Greece have expanded, the waiting list for many detoxification clinics that take in the most troubled addicts is still very long. Also, a worrying percentage of students and teenagers consume alcohol. One in three teenagers between 14 and 17 regularly drink alcohol, particularly hard liquor such as whiskey and vodka. Data show these teens drank alcohol at least six times in the last month, and 12.4 percent of them said they had got drunk at least three times in the last year. The number of teenagers consuming alcohol today appears to have increased since 1998. Alcohol abuse in particular has seen a continuous and steady increase over the last two decades. Still, more teenagers understand the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, especially when combined with driving, the study shows.

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