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Drugs and young people in Bulgaria

by Ognyana Toneva, Bulgaria

In my country drugs are really a big problem

Why young people? Why do drugs seem to be the biggest problem for young people exactly, and especially for students? Why? The answer, I think, is not so difficult: because young people are most vulnerable. They are still not strong enough, it's hard for them to say "no" and to be different from their classmates. They still haven't built up their personality, they may not always be able to reason properly and after all they have great curiosity for everything new and interesting. Drugs, however, are not something that could be worthy of young people's attention or interest.

The situation in Bulgaria

In my country drugs are really a big problem, especially among young people. This is due to several factors. First of all, Bulgaria is situated at a very strategical position (in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula) and connects many Asian countries with Central and West Europe. This holds good for any other commodities, but is exclusively tangible and important for drugs. Annually, huge amounts of various kinds of drugs are transported through our country. Here is some data for the drug traffic for 1999:

The overall sum (all kinds of drugs caught) is 285.851 kg, 22. 752 pills, 2 213 litårs. This is one of the reasons for the great consumption of drugs. Considering also their low price, it is not difficult for a student to find and buy himself the kind of drug he wants.

Now in Bulgaria almost all kinds of drugs are available. The most distributed and the lightest one is marihuana. "Joints" (cigarettes containing some form of cannabis) are extremely popular among students. The most frightening thing is that pupils start smoking at a very early age (at 13 or 14 - the average age is about 15) and the price of one cigarette is only 1 lev (0.5 euro). Of course, not all of the young people use to take this kind of drug, but as a student at a high school I can say, that more than 50% of my schoolmates have tried it at least once and 25% smoke regularly. According to the official data, 24% of the high-school students in Sofia have tried marihuana and 11% some other form of cannabis (data for 2000). In 1995 the per cent of the students using this type of drug had been 9.

The beginning: In the early 1960s drugs were distributed and popular among a small circle of people in Bulgaria. During the 80s this becomes more widely spread and in the 90s is considerably increasing. At the end of the 20th century about 30.000 Bulgarians are regularly using heroin!

Presently this is the most dangerous narcotic in Bulgaria. The price of 1 gram is about 30 leva (15 euros). There are two very disturbing tendencies: 1) the average age of people using it regularly is quickly going down - in 1995 it had been about 25 and now it is 20; 2) in 1995 the average age for trying it for the first time was 21, now it is 18. Starting to use this "serious" and "strong" narcotic at so early age is extremely dangerous and can cause heavy damages. According to the official data in 2000 only 2% of the students in Sofia have ever used heroin, but most probably the real number is greater. Here is some other information about the distribution of different types of drugs among pupils:

  1. Have you ever used some of the following drugs?


A survey conducted among high-school students in Sofia by the Centre for Phychological Health in Varna (this was given to me by the director of this Centre). Also data from www.mvr.bg.

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Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002

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