Turkey Country Drug Report 2019

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

The most recent data on illicit drug use among the adult general population in Turkey are available from a general population study conducted in 2017. The reported use of illicit substances among the general population in Turkey remains low. In 2017, cannabis was the most common illicit drug used by adults aged 15-64 years, followed by MDMA/ecstasy and cocaine. The highest rates of illicit drug use were reported among young males aged 15-34 years.

Drug use data among students were reported in a 2011 attitude and behaviour survey on tobacco, alcohol and drug use among 14- to 19-year-old students in high school. About 1 % of 15-year-old students reported lifetime use of any drug, while the proportion increased to 1.5 % when all respondents were considered. About 0.3 % of all respondents reported having ever used cannabis, although this figure should be treated with caution, as it was calculated based on responses to open-ended questions and, given this, the results are not comparable with those of other similar studies in Europe.

Istanbul participated for the first time in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaigns undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE). This study provides data on drug use at a municipal level, based on the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites found in sources of wastewater. For Istanbul, the collected data are from one of its 14 treatment plants. Results were available for amphetamine and methamphetamine, with higher levels detected at weekends.

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High-risk drug use and trends

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform an understanding of the nature of and trends in high-risk drug use.

High-risk drug use in Turkey is mainly linked to the use of opioids. In the last 5 years, the number of inpatient treatment demands reported in Turkey has increased; this is mostly attributed to increased coverage of data reporting. Data from specialised inpatient treatment centres indicate that heroin was the most commonly reported primary substance for first-time clients entering treatment in 2017.

Injecting drug use was reported by about one fifth of all clients entering treatment, and there are indications of a continuous decline in the levels of heroin injecting in Turkey. The majority of drug treatment clients are male.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.