A new European report on drugs has listed Cyprus—along with Greece and Turkey—as a country where crystal methamphetamine smoking is an emerging risk.
Released on Tuesday, the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) 'European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments' said: "Worrying reports are emerging from south-east Europe (Greece, Cyprus, Turkey) that crystal methamphetamine smoking is a limited, but emerging, problem, with the possibility of a spread among vulnerable populations."
The report's general finding was Europe's drugs problem is becoming "increasingly complex" with new challenges emerging that raise concerns for public health.
Although the agency describes an overall stable situation in the EU, with some positive signs in relation to the more established drugs, this is counter-balanced by new threats posed by synthetic drugs which are becoming more prominent in a changing European drug market.
Cyprus was included in a section on methamphetamine use, which, according to the report, was historically low in Europe and mainly limited to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but now appears to be spreading.
The EMCDDA figures on Cyprus included the findings of a 2012 general population survey on licit and illicit substance use, and mental health issues. It was the third such survey and used a sample of 3,500 respondents aged 15-64 who were Greek speakers residing in government-controlled areas. According to the findings, cannabis remained the most prevalent illicit substance used; however, there are indications of a decrease when compared with the 2009 survey data.
Among 15-to-34-year-old Cypriots over a year period prevalence was 4.2% and in the month before being questioned prevalence was 2%, compared to the respective rates of 7.9% and 4.5% in 2009, and 3.4 % and 2.1 % in 2006.
Cocaine was the second most prevalent drug reported in 2009 and 2012.
Prevalence of cocaine use in 2012 was 0.6 % (2.2 % in 2009; 0.7 % in 2006) while in the month before being questioned prevalence among younger Cypriots was 0.1 % (0.7 % in 2009; 0.4% in 2006).
A strong link between gender and illicit drug use was re-confirmed in 2012, with males having higher prevalence rates for all drugs.
The 2012 survey indicated the mean age of cannabis experimentation was 18-20 years, which coincides with an obligatory enrolment to and release from National Guard service for all men.
The report said the number of police seizures involving methamphetamine doubled in 2012 compared to 2011, with 400g of the substance confiscated.