Some 200 people are also said to be battling addiction, while the average age for starting to use drugs was said to be 20 – two years after the average North Cyprus youngster starts drinking and four years after smokers generally pick up their habit.
Speaking for last Wednesday's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Near East University Psychology Department head Mehmet Çakıcı said a survey of 1,000 people in 2003 had shown drug use running at 3 per cent among the general population and 2 per cent in senior schools.
The figures had now risen to 9 per cent and 6 per cent respectively, according to studies between 2015 and 2018, and even showed 1% drug use in primary schools, he said.
Dr Çakıcı laid blame for the increase at the government's door, saying it was not making the necessary effort to toughen up anti-drugs precautions and legislation and needed to accord more importace to the issue to avoid “worse repercussions”.
The drugs squad did not have the modern equipment it needed, he said, and added: “The treatment of drug addicts is painful and difficult in the TRNC. More cooperation with experts is needed and I hope the new government gives importance to the issue and makes some strides.”
Cyprus Green Crescent head Ayşe Gökyiğit warned parents to “build strong bonds” with their children to protect their children from harmful habits.
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