NEWS

Drug deaths shot up in 2005

Many more Greeks died from using hard drugs in 2005 than in 2004 even though fewer Greeks reported using illegal substances, survey results showed yesterday. An annual report, prepared by the University Research Institute for Mental Health (EPIPSI), showed that 13.6 percent more people died because of drug use in 2005 than in 2004. The figure could reach as high as 29 percent because more deaths from last year may yet be linked to drugs. But the survey also showed that 3.6 percent of the general population aged between12 to 64 used illegal narcotics regularly, a figure considerably lower than in previous years. In 1998, 12.2 percent of Greeks said they used drugs. In 2004, that figure was 8.6 percent, the report showed. Last year, 19,151 regular users of heroin were recorded compared to 19,601 in 2004. But cannabis still remains the most popular drug of choice. Less than one-tenth (8.6 percent) of the broader population admitted to having used cannabis at least once while usage rates among teenagers aged between 17 to 18 reached 20 percent. According to the profile of drug users offered by the report, 84 percent are male and most are between the ages of 19 and 28. Most users live with their parents (71 percent) while nearly two-thirds are jobless. In other data released by EPIPSI, alcohol consumption appears to be on the rise among Greek teens. One in three youngsters – or about 33 percent – aged between 14 and 17 replied that they regularly consume an alcoholic drink, which means they will drink at least six times a month. In 1998 the respective figure was 24.8 percent. Hard liquor such as whiskey, vodka and tequila rank among the favorites. Experts said that alcohol abuse rates in Greece are still lower than those seen in Northern European countries but warned that this gap is getting smaller.