Abuse of prescription tranquiizers among Cypriot teens is nearly double the European average; preliminary findings of a new study have shown.
According to data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs that will be officially released in early 2015, Cyprus is ranked number four among 35 European countries for tranquiliser abuse in 16-year-olds after Poland, Monaco and Lithuania.
Commenting on the statistics, head of Anti-drug Association KENTHEA Dr Kyriacos Veresies said the authorities should be concerned that abuse of prescription drugs including Ativan, Clonotril, Vallium, and Xanax is rated at 11% among Cypriot secondary school students while the European average is 6%. "Illegal drugs pose many obvious dangers but prescribed medications are the most widely used by the general public and can also be extremely hazardous when abused."
Veresies explained that during times of financial crisis and high unemployment it is common for drug use and abuse of prescription drugs to mark an upwards trend.
"There are many varieties of tranquilisers available which are used to treat a variety of conditions such as sleeping disorders and acute stress. Unfortunately youths have easy access to these drugs as in many cases their parents will buy them on prescription and keep them in the house."
The doctor warned that the effects of any given tranquiliser can have very different results on different patients depending on their metabolism and should therefore never be taken without a prescription or recreationally.
"The same quantity of a tranquiliser might have an effect on one patient that is 20 times more powerful that it can have on another."
Long-term abuse, according to Veresies, can lead to addiction and many health problems and ironically can cause dangerous side effects similar to the conditions tranquilisers are frequently used to treat. "Abuse of tranquilisers can often case cause anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations and even severe memory loss."
The ESPAD is a collaborative effort of independent research which has been conducting multi-national surveys on drug and alcohol use among youths every four years since 1995.