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Turkey country overview — a summary of the national drug situation



Turkey country overview
A summary of the national drug situation

Map of Turkey

Our partner in Turkey

Türkiye Uyuşturucu ve Uyuşturucu Bağımlılığı İzleme Merkezi (TUBİM) - Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Ulusal Temas Noktası
Meşrutiyet Mah. Konur Sokak No:40
TR-06640 Çankaya/Ankara
Tel. +90 312 462 8050-55
Fax: +90 312 462 8059

Head of focal point: Mr. Bülent Özcan

Our partner in Turkey

Türkiye Uyuşturucu ve Uyuşturucu Bağımlılığı İzleme Merkezi (TUBİM) - Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

TADOC Müdürlügü
Yucetepe Mahallesi Necatibey Caddesi
Polis Akademisi Kampüsü
No:108/B Anıttepe / Çankaya
TR-06580 Ankara
Tel. +90 312 412 7950
Fax: +90 312 412 7979

Head of focal point: Mr. Oğuzhan Yonca

E-mail addresses have been inserted in a way discouraging spam. Please replace [a] by @ before actually using any of the e-mail addresses.

Drug use among the general population and young people

The first general population study on the prevalence of drug use in Turkey was conducted in 2011 by the Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM). The study covered 25 regions (the Van region was not included, as an earthquake occurred there during the study period) with a sample of 8 045 people aged 15–64, a response rate of 43.9 %. The European Model Questionnaire was adapted to the national context and face-to-face interviews were carried out with the respondents. Around 2.7 % indicated use of any illicit substance during their lifetime, and cannabis was the most prevalent illicit substance ever used, at 0.7 % of the respondents. About 0.3 % of respondents had used cannabis in the past 12 months, while 0.2 % had used it in the last 30 days. Lifetime prevalence rates for amphetamines were reported at 0.3 %, followed by ecstasy at 0.1 %. The highest rates of illicit drug use were reported among males aged 15–34. Thus 1.6 % of male respondents in this age group had ever used cannabis, 0.7 % had used amphetamine and 0.2 % had used ecstasy. The study indicated that among females drug use prevalence increased between the ages of 25–44, and twice as many female respondents reported using tranquilisers or sedatives without a doctor’s prescription.

In 2003, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) with a sample size of 6 149 young people aged 15–16 was conducted in six metropolitan cities (Adana, Ankara, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, İzmir and Samsun). The study found a lifetime prevalence of 5 % for inhalants, 4 % for cannabis, 2 % for ecstasy, 2 % for heroin and 2 % for cocaine. Last year prevalence for cannabis use was reported by 5 % of the students, and last month prevalence by 3 %.

In 2011 TUBİM conducted an attitude and behaviour survey on tobacco, alcohol and drug use among students in the second year of high school (age range: 14–19), using a self-administered questionnaire. About 1.0 % of 15-year-old students reported lifetime use of any drug, while the proportion increased to 1.5 % if all respondents were considered. About 0.3 % of all respondents reported ever having used cannabis, although this rate should be treated with caution as it was calculated based on open-ended questions to which responses were frequently not given.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the 'Statistical bulletin' for more information  

High-risk drug use

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use (IDU) or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. The new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

A population size estimate of high-risk opioid users has been performed in Turkey for all years between 2007 and 2011, using the mortality multiplier method. The most recent study, from 2011, suggested that there were around 12 733 opioid users (sensitivity interval: 11 126–26 537), which corresponds to a rate of 0.3 opioid users per 1 000 population aged 15–64 (sensitivity interval: 2.1–3.9).

Look for High risk drug-use in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment demand

Treatment demand data in Turkey are provided by the Directorate-General for Health Services of the Ministry of Health through a drug treatment notification form. In 2013 data were reported from all 25 operational inpatient treatment centres.

In 2013 a total of 7 265 clients entered inpatient treatment, of which 3 738 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. Some 76 % of all treatment clients reported opioids as their primary drug, followed by 13 % for cannabis and 3 % for volatile inhalants. A similar pattern was identified among new treatment clients, with 68 % reporting opioids, mainly heroin, followed by 17 % for cannabis and 4 % for volatile inhalants. It is notable that about 5 % of all treatment entries were linked to other substances, among which the vast majority were synthetic cannabinoids. Injecting drug use was reported by 40 % of all treatment clients and 29 % of new treatment clients who demanded treatment due to the use of opioids. From 2006 to 2013, the number of clients entering treatment for opioid use, and heroin in particular, has increased fivefold, primarily due to the increased availability of treatment for opioid addiction in Turkey.

The mean age of all treatment clients was 27 years, while the average age of new treatment clients was 25 years. The gender distribution was similar among all and new treatment clients, with 94 % and 95 % male clients respectively.

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-related infectious diseases

The Public Health Agency of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Health General Directorate of Health Services provide data on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Turkey. In 2013 the Public Health Agency recorded four new HIV cases among people who inject drugs (PWID).

Hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV testing is also carried out among PWID admitted to the Alcohol-Substance Addiction Research, Therapy and Education Centres (AMATEM). In 2013 some 0.2 % of 2 676 clients tested were HIV positive, 4.5 % were HBV positive and 45.1 % were HCV positive.

In 2012, around 912 HCV and 156 HBV cases with injecting drug use as a likely transmission route were reported in Turkey. Since the transmission routes were not provided by the patients, the transmission routes for all the HCV and HBV cases are assumed to be due to injecting drug use.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-induced deaths and mortality among drug users

Drug-induced deaths are reported by the Council of Forensic Medicine under the Ministry of Justice from a special death registry, which is based on autopsy reports from across Turkey. Data extraction and reporting is in line with the EMCDDA definitions and recommendations.

In 2013 some 232 drug-induced deaths were reported. The overall trend indicates a steady increase in reported drug-induced deaths from 2007 to 2009, with a slight decrease in 2010, while in 2011 the increasing trend resumed, and between 2012–13 the number of deaths increased by more than 40 % (162 cases in 2012). In 2013, the majority of the deceased were male (225). The mean age of victims was 31.1 years. Toxicological analysis was available for all confirmed drug-induced deaths, and opiates were involved in 164 reported death cases. However, more than one substance was detected in over two-thirds of the deaths. It is hypothesised that fluctuations in the number of drug-induced deaths in Turkey may be linked to changes in the heroin supply as a result of fluctuations in opium production activities in Afghanistan, where a decline was observed in 2010 and a subsequent increase in 2012. The high purity of illicit substances, heroin in particular and also ecstasy, together with an increase in stimulant and poly-substance use are also mentioned as likely reasons for to the most recent increase in reported drug-induced deaths.

The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 4.4 deaths per million in 2013, lower than the European average of 17.2 deaths per million.

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment responses

The implementation of drug-related treatment in Turkey falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, and the Science Committee for Substance Addiction is responsible for its national coordination, while since the end of 2013 Provincial Healthcare Directorates have been authorised to license and supervise substance abuse treatment centres.

The treatment is provided through the Alcohol-Substance Addiction Research, Therapy and Education Centres (AMATEMs), psychiatric clinics of public hospitals under the Ministry of Health, and university-based treatment units. In 2013 there were 26 active inpatient and outpatient treatment units, and there are plans to increase the number of units in the future. The majority of drug-related treatment services take place in inpatient settings. Funding for drug-treatment services is mainly provided by the state through social or health insurance funds.

The majority of treatment services for drug users treat addiction in general, providing treatment for both alcohol and illicit drugs. The primary approach of treatment programmes is to help clients achieving a drug-free state. An essential part of the treatment is detoxification, usually in the inpatient setting, which is complemented with other interventions consisting of motivational interviewing techniques and cognitive therapies that aim to prevent relapse.

In 2009 a combined buprenorphine/naloxone medication was licensed in Turkey, and it has been used in drug addiction treatment for detoxification and substitution since 2010. Opioid substitution treatment (OST) was initially prescribed by psychiatrists within AMATEMs, but since 2014 all addiction centres licensed by the Ministry of Health have been able to implement OST. The latest available data from 2012 indicate that about 28 656 clients in Turkey receive OST with a buprenorphine-based medication.

See the Treatment profile for Turkey for additional information.  

Harm reduction responses

Needle and syringe exchange programmes are not available in Turkey.

See the Harm reduction overview for Turkey for additional information.  

Drug markets and drug-law offences

Heroin originating from Afghanistan is trafficked through Turkey to central and western Europe via the Balkan route. Cannabis is mainly produced for the domestic market, and is subject to local and regional trafficking mostly carried out by family-type structures of 3–15 people. In addition to domestic cultivation, small amounts of cannabis are smuggled to Turkey from Iran and Syria. Cocaine enters Turkey from South America for domestic use and en route to other European countries, Azerbaijan and northern Iraq. Captagon (amphetamine) tablets originating in south-eastern Europe are smuggled through Turkey for domestic use and en route to countries in the Middle East, although there are indications that in recent years production of that substance has moved to the Middle East and its availability in the market has significantly declined. Methamphetamine, originating in Iran, was seized for the first time in 2009, and seizures of the substance have since increased. Methamphetamine seized in Turkey is primarily destined for the south-east Asia region and to a lesser extent for Europe and Syria, while the most recent data indicates the emergence of some alternative smuggling routes and methods for the substance. Ecstasy seized in Turkey originates in the Netherlands and Belgium. Ecstasy, originated mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium, is trafficked to Turkey mainly for the domestic market, primarily the larger urban and tourist areas along the Mediterranean and Aegean coastline. Synthetic cannabinoids seized in Turkey mainly originate in the European countries, the USA and China.

In 2013, some 98 933 drug-law offences were registered in Turkey, following a steady increase since reporting started. Most of these offences were related to drug use or possession (82 %). A substantial proportion of offences (70 %) were related to cannabis, 6.4 % to heroin and 4.5 % to ecstasy.

Cannabis products remain the most-seized drugs, and data available since 2003 shows an increase in the seized quantities of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin. In 2013 a further increase was reported in herbal cannabis seizures, from 124 673 kg in 2012 to 180 10.7 kg in 2013, and the amount of cannabis resin seized increased from 27 413.11 kg in 2012 to 94 279.36 kg in 2013. In 2013, a total of 3 706 seizures of cannabis plants were reported, which is less than reported in 2009–11, but slightly more than in 2012.

The quantity of heroin seized sharply increased from 3 710 kg in 2001 to 16 059 kg in 2009, while in the following years the amount seized fell to 7 294 kg in 2011, indicating a heroin shortage in the market. In 2012, however, the amount seized increased to 13 301 kg, and remained at the same level in 2013, with 13 480.06 kg seized. In addition to heroin, the Turkish law enforcement agencies also reported seizures of opium and its derivates, and morphine base.

Cocaine seizures increased approximately fourfold in the period 2008–12 (from 94 kg to 476 kg). In 2011 a record quantity of 592 kg was seized, which is explained by the seizure of a large amount of the substance in one large operation. In 2013, a total of 450 kg of cocaine was seized.

Although there was a rapid decline in Captagon seizures after 2008, in 2013 a new record amount of more than 4.5 million Captagon tablets were seized, almost all in a single operation that seized tablets en route from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula. A total of 4 274 ecstasy seizures were recorded in 2013, which resulted in record seizures of almost 4.5 million tablets of ecstasy. The number of methamphetamine seizures continued to increase until 2012 following the first seizures in 2009, but in 2013 a total quantity of 105.176 kg of substance was seized, less than in 2012, when 502 kg were seized.

Look for Drug law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data.  

National drug laws

The Turkish Penal Code, which came into force in 2005, no longer criminalises consumption per se, but sets prison sentences of one to two years for those who buy, receive or possess drugs for personal use; there is also the option of treatment and/or probation of up to three years. If addicts refuse treatment or do not comply with probation requirements, the courts can decide on sentencing. Judicial supervision rather than arrest is also available for the manufacture of and dealing in drugs, under the Penal Procedure Code (Article 188), with a maximum possible sentence of three years. For any offence committed under the influence of drugs there is no penalty for offenders who could not comprehend or control their actions (although this exemption does not apply if the drugs were taken deliberately). Instead, such offenders and those posing a serious threat to society due to their addiction may be sent to a secure institution for treatment and protection. However, the Turkish Civil Code has provisions that may restrain activity or place drug users in a health or educational institution or in detention in cases where their drug use poses a significant threat to the safety and security of others.

Production and import or export of drugs are punished by a minimum sentence of 10 years, and sale or supply by a sentence of 5–15 years. In this case, punishments are linked to drug type, with a specific requirement to increase these sentences by 50 % if the drugs involved are cocaine, heroin, morphine or morphine base; a similar increase is imposed in cases where organised crime is involved, or where those convicted held positions linked to legal trades, such as doctors, pharmacists, health officers, etc.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information.  

National drug strategy

Turkey’s National Drug Policy and Strategy Document, 2013–18 was approved by the Prime Minister in September 2013. Prepared by the Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM) in consultation with government ministries and non-state stakeholders, the strategy draws on the Turkish constitution’s provision for a drug policy that includes preventative action against addiction. The strategy is built on a balanced approach and the need for a multidisciplinary response to drug problems. Constructed around the pillars of drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction, it states the priorities set by the Turkish government in the fight against illicit drugs. These include the need to develop a rapid intervention system to combat new psychoactive substances and to target drug trafficking as a means of funding terrorist activities. Drug use is identified as a major public health challenge in the strategy, which underlines the need to prevent drug use and to provide treatment and reintegration for drug users. The strategy endorses an approach based on effective coordination at the national level coupled with international cooperation, and the use of research and evaluation to support anti-drug activities.

The national strategy is being implemented through two action plans, the first of which runs from 2013–15. It sets out 84 actions that are designed to meet the 29 strategic objectives laid out in the national strategy. The strategy is built around the two pillars of demand and supply reduction and three cross-cutting themes: international cooperation; data collection, research and evaluation; and coordination.


Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

The National Drug Coordination Committee was established on the basis of the first action plan and addresses all aspects of the drug phenomenon, not only addiction. This committee consists of representatives from all ministries involved in implementing drug policy.

The Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM) is attached to the General Directorate of Security/Anti-Smuggling and Organised Crime Department under the Turkish National Police. It is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the national drugs strategy, and for monitoring the drug situation. It does this through its network of provincial focal points around the country. TUBİM is tasked with drafting national drug action plans and updating them, and also manages Turkey’s national early warning system for monitoring new psychoactive substances. Comprised of academics from a range of disciplines, TUBİM’s Scientific Committee reviews evidence related to drug policy issues and provides advice to government.

There are currently 81 Provincial Drug Coordination Committees throughout Turkey, covering all provinces. Provincial drug action plans have been established in 78 provinces. The tasks of the Secretariat for the provincial action plans and the Provincial Coordination Committees are carried out by a governorship in one province, the Provincial Health Directorates in 73 provinces, the Provincial Security Directorate in four provinces, and the Provincial National Education Directorate in three provinces.

Public expenditure

In Turkey, the financing of drug-related activities is decided annually by the entities in charge of their implementation.

Until 2011 the reporting of drug-related public expenditures was very limited and incomplete. In 2011 a preliminary questionnaire was sent to drug-related public services for the first time and this has been improved every year since 2012. Estimates suggest that drug-related public expenditure was TRY 7430546 907 in 2013 (0.05 % of gross domestic product). However, the completeness of this estimate is unknown.

Drug-related research

To date, research has mainly been carried out by professionals in treatment centres. Recently, however, there has been an increasing interest in the field of drug-related research, with the support of the EMCDDA, through the national focal point. There is no specific budget for public institutions to carry out drug research, but funds are available for some studies. A number of non-government organisations carry out drug research. In recent years the national focal point, through support provided by a number of EU projects, has been promoting research in this field amongst partners and universities. Some studies have already been put in place, including problem drug use estimation in three cities, a pilot general population survey, a student population survey and an infectious diseases survey. Publication in this field is limited. The Turkey Drug Conference takes place annually.

Recent drug-related studies mentioned in the 2014 Turkish National report mainly focus on aspects related to the prevalence, incidence and patterns of drug use.

See Drug-related research for more detailled information. 

Key national figures and statistics

p Eurostat provisional value.

b Break in series.

e Estimated.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers, in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2011.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

  Year   EU (27 countries) Source
Population  2014 76 667 864 506 824 509 ep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014 16.6 % 11.3 % bep Eurostat
25–49 37.4 % 34.7 % bep
50–64 13.8 % 19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2013 53 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2012 13.8 % 29.5 % p Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2014 9.9 % 10.2 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2014 18.0 % 22.2 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2013 180.0  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2013
At risk of poverty rate 5  2013 : 16.6 %  SILC

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max. Average Rank Reporting Countries
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2011 1 0.26 0.2 10.7   1 21
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   76.3% 6% 93%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   68.0% 2% 81%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2013   41.5% 6% 42%   24 24
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2013   EUR 2.7 - EUR 67.7 EUR 25 EUR 158      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) :   : 0% 4% 2%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 2% 1%    
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   1.1% 0% 39%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   1.1% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2013   59.1% 20% 75%   23 27
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 13.55 - EUR 118.53 EUR 47 EUR 103      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) :   : 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 1% 1%    
All clients entering treatment (%) :   : 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) :   : 0% 74%      
Purity (%) 2013   4.8% 5% 71%   1 25
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 3.4 - EUR 33.9 EUR 8 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.1% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 2% 1%    
All clients entering treatment (%) :   0.8% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) :   1.1% 0% 4%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2013   121 mg 26 mg 144 mg   22 23
Price per tablet (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 1 - EUR 20.3 EUR 3 EUR 24      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.4% 0% 22% 12%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.3% 0% 9% 6%    
All clients entering treatment (%) :   12.7% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) :   17.5% 5% 80%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2013   3.8% 2% 13%   2 22
Potency — resin (%) 2013   2.9% 3% 22%   1 20
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 0.3 - EUR 35.6 EUR 4 EUR 25      
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 1 - EUR 35.6 EUR 3 EUR 21      
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) :   : 2.0 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) :   : 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (rate/million) 2013   0.1 0.0 54.5      
HIV prevalence (%) 2013   0.2% 0% 49%      
HCV prevalence (%) 2013   45.1% 14% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2013   3.1 1.5 84.1      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed :   : 124 406 9 239 506      
Clients in substitution treatment 2012   28 656 180 172 513      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2013   7 265 289 101 753      
New clients 2013   3 738 19 35 229      
All clients with known primary drug 2013   7 265 287 99 186      
New clients with known primary drug 2013   3 738 19 34 524      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2013   98 933 429 426 707      
Offences for use/possession 2013   81 363 58 397 713      


See the explanatory notes for further information on the methods and definitions.

Only the most recent data are available for each key statistic. Data before 2006 were excluded.

1 - Data presented are the minimum and maximum value recorded.

Additional sources of national information

In addition to the information provided above, you might find the following resources useful sources of national data.


Page last updated: Friday, 04 March 2016