Nine drug-induced deaths reported in Cyprus in 2015

Nine drug-induced deaths were reported in Cyprus in 2015, a report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) revealed on Tuesday.

Cyprus’ 2017 Country Drug Report was presented by the Cyprus Anti-Drugs Council at a press conference, in Nicosia.

Drug-induced deaths are deaths that can be attributed directly to the use of illicit drugs (i.e. poisonings and overdoses).

A total of 8.441 overdose deaths, mainly related to heroin and other opioids, are estimated to have occurred in Europe in 2015 (28 EU, Turkey and Norway), a 6% increase on the estimated 7.950 deaths in the 30 countries in 2014.

In 2015, the Special Registry reported nine drug-induced deaths in Cyprus, which is an increase compared with the period 2013-14. According to the toxicological results, eight cases involved opioids the report revealed.

It said that in 2015, six victims were older than 30 years, adding that in Cyprus, the drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) increased to 15.4 deaths per million in 2015, but remains below the most recent European average of 20.3 deaths per million.

According to the report, cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug among the general population in Cyprus. According to the 2016 general population study, approximately 1 in 10 adults aged 15-64 had used cannabis at least once during their lifetime, which is a slightly higher proportion than in 2014. Cannabis use remains concentrated among young adults aged 15-34 years. The long-term analysis indicates some decrease in last-year cannabis prevalence among these groups since 2009, with possible stabilisation in the most recent years. Use of other illicit substances is less common, the report said.

It also revealed a strong link between gender and illicit drug use, with males having higher prevalence rates for all drugs. The mean age at cannabis experimentation is 18-20 years, which coincides with an obligatory enrolment to and release from the National Guard service for males. Use of new psychoactive substances is also concentrated among 15- to 34-year-olds, with synthetic cannabinoids being the most popular substances reported.

The report said that drug use among students is reported from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) study, which has been conducted regularly in Cyprus since 1995 among 15- to 16-year-olds (in the government-controlled areas).

In addition, in 2015, it was estimated that there were 1.161 high-risk opioid users in Cyprus, of whom fewer than one in six injected the substance. Since 2014, high-risk methamphetamine use has also been reported in Cyprus.

The report said that data from specialised treatment centres indicate an overall decline since 2007 in primary heroin-using clients entering treatment for the first time. In recent years, an increasing number of clients have sought treatment for use of opioids other than heroin (in particular oxycodone). First-time clients using heroin tend to be older than those seeking care because of primary use of other illicit substances.

Although injecting remains common among opioid users entering treatment, a downward trend in this practise has been observed in recent years, according to the report.

Furthermore, the data on clients entering treatment system suggest an increase in treatment demands for primary use of methamphetamine in recent years. It also said that data on the proportion of cannabis users entering treatment for the first time indicate an upward trend since 2008, which is mainly attributed to the implementation of the Protocol of Cooperation for the Referral of Young Offenders.

The report also said that the number of people who inject drugs (PWID) with valid test results for drug-related infectious diseases (DRID) is declining and, in 2015, was half that in 2014. It added that one HIV-positive individual was identified in 2015 among tested PWID, while three treatment clients self-reported as HIV positive. In 2015, a total of 23 PWID were found to be positive for hepatitis C virus (HCV), of whom 15 were non-Cypriots.

Source: Cyprus News Agency