Friday, 27 March 2009

Armenian teenagers are the 'winners' of the latest European survey on alcohol, smoking and drug use

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) is being conducted each 4 years from 1995. For the first time, Armenia participated in this survey in 2007, which was the latest round of it. The ESPAD has just published its results.

They are pretty encouraging for Armenia, which reportedly has the lowest prevalence of alcohol consumption, smoking and drug use among teenagers of 35 European countries participating in the survey. However...

As much as I am pleasantly surprised, say, with the low smoking rates, this apparently does not get transformed into the life style changes. One recent data suggest that "with more than 70% of the population smoking, Armenia ranks sixth in the number of smokers in the world and number one in Europe." Truly, a gigantic transformation to the worse. The question is what makes no smoking teenagers become heavy smoking adults?

Below are key ESPAD results for Armenia (plus Figure, above):

Overall, alcohol and drug use in Armenia is very limited in comparison with other ESPAD countries. The key variables are all well below average, making Armenia the lowest-prevalence country in this study. Although about two-thirds (66%) of the students had been drinking alcohol during the past 12 months, less than one-tenth of them (8%) reported that they had been drunk in that period. The consumption volumes on the latest drinking day are very moderate (1.6 cl alc. 100%). Smoking is also rare, with low 30-days prevalence (7%), and the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use is low (3%). Moreover, very few (2%) of the Armenian students had used any drug other than cannabis, and non-prescription use of tranquillisers or sedatives is almost non-existent, as is use of pills in combination with alcohol.

For full comparative results of all participating countries, visit the ESPAD website.


Heroinhead said...

Is there a heroin problem in Armenia? How prevalent is heroin abuse/addiction there?

Best Wishes, Shane.

artmika said...

There is no reliable data on heroin use in Armenia. As pointed out in a recent South Caucasus Anti-Drug (SCAD) Armenia report, "The epidemiological and statistical data on drug use in Armenia is lacking. Estimating the actual number of injecting drug users in Armenia was problematic; since the stigmatization and criminalization of drug use gave an environment for remaining the drug use mostly hidden phenomena (Markosyan, 2005)." However, they provided an overview of the situation, including data from various surveys on drug use (and heroine use) in Armenia.

Here is an extract:

Problem drug use

According to the operative data of the Ministry of the Interior of Armenia* the number of drug users (last month use of any illegal drugs) was estimated to be 20,000 individuals in the country in 20,000 (50% of them residing in the capital city Yerevan), of whom 2,000 were estimated to be injecting drug users.

The “Rapid Assessment of the Situation on Spread of HIV Infection Including Intravenous Drug Users” found higher rates of heroin use in the general population of Armenia. According to the survey, in Yerevan alone, there were between 19,000 and 20,000 drug users who report drug use during the last year, and of whom approximately 10% were injecting drug users (Grigoryan et al., 2002).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) EURO databases**, the estimated number of injecting drug users was between 7,000 and 11,000 in Armenia as of 2003.

An anonymous survey on infectious diseases and related risk behavior among Armenian prison population and the prison staff was carried out in Armenia in 2004 (Weilandt et al., 2005). The study was conducted in a representative sample of seven prisons (including the Hospital for Detainees) using structured quantitative questionnaires for prisoners and members of the staff and conducting anonymous salivary HIV and hepatitis (WASH) surveillance for prisoners. Altogether, 542 of 556 eligible prisoners (97.4%) completed the questionnaires and gave a saliva sample. 348 members of the actual staff of 483 (72.0%) was interviewed.

The survey revealed that 27.2% of the study population used cannabis before imprisonment, 4.2% continued to use cannabis inside prison and 3.2% started to use cannabis in prison. The distribution for heroine use and use of self prepared poppy-based mixtures (called “chimia” – a Russian word for “chemistry”) is quite similar: 12.3% of the study population stated they used heroine/opiates before imprisonment and exactly the same percentage mentioned use of self prepared mixtures (chimia) before imprisonment. There is a substantial overlap of heroine and chimia use: 86% of the prisoners that ever used (inside or outside prison) heroine also stated chimia use and 79% of the chimia users also stated heroine use.

The proportion of prisoners who reported lifetime prevalence of injecting drug use (ever injected drugs) was 13.3%."

Full report is available here .

Heroinhead said...


Thank you very much... this is very interesting. I suspect that in 15 years Armenia is going to have a huge hepatitis and HIV problem. Unless the government is open about this and ensures free and sterile equipment disease will escalate rapidly. Afghanistan will have huge problems with this also... as will many regional countries.

Once again, thank you for the information & for your time in gathering it. Best Wishes, Shane.