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Cannabis use has risen in Europe. Photo credit: Gras Grün

Drug abuse rising among Italian teens

The use of illegal drugs has been rising among Italian teenagers. The parliamentary childhood committee on Tuesday noted that the rise was the steepest in the 15-19 year age bracket. The rise coincides with the rise in immigration.

Published: November 7, 2020, 11:38 am

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    Luciano Squillaci of the Italian federation of therapeutic communities, FICT, told Italian news agency ANSA that the number of minors entrusted to health services with drug problems has doubled in the last five years.

    Squiilaci said one teenager in three said they had used illegal substances in the last year. But ICT’s network was receiving calls for help from families with children as young as 11-14 “who they have discovered to have addiction problems,” according to Squillaci.

    The magnitude of the drug problem in Europe becomes more apparent when individual countries are taken into account. In Italy, almost 10 out of 1 000 Italians were recognized as a problem drug user, suffering from drug use disorders or drug dependence in 2018 already.

    The number of people in Europe who have used illicit drugs varies by drug type. Marijuana ranks first with an estimated 23,3 percent of individuals having used it in their lifetime and over half of regular users smoking it every day. The law offences related to cannabis in Europe generally were mostly linked to cannabis use.

    The prevalence of cocaine use has been relatively low in Europe, with the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland recording the highest prevalence at 2 percent, meaning that 2 percent of the adult population of the respective countries have used/use cocaine.

    In Europe generally, 20 percent of users used cocaine on a daily basis in 2014.

    According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the majority of individuals who died from drugs in Europe were aged between 40 and 64 years old. In Italy 305 deaths were recorded related to drug abuse in 2015. In 2014, Sweden registered 765 drug-related deaths.

    The number of individuals in substitution treatment for opioid addiction in Europe was reported to be over 680 000 in 2014, with the majority of them entering treatment for heroin addiction. According to reports, over half of individuals seeking treatment for heroin use self-refer themselves.

    It is estimated that 5,2 percent of the global population between the ages of 15 and 64 years (over 360 million people) used an illicit drug in 2014. That represents an increase of 24 million people since 1990.

    The Italian economy has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission’s updated economic forecasts released on Thursday, showed. It said “it is unlikely that the recovery will be sufficient to get production back to pre-pandemic levels by 2022”.

    Italian GDP is estimated to contract by almost 10 percent in 2020 and recover by only around 4 percent by 2021. The Italian unemployment rate will surge to more than 11 percent in 2021 with the majority of job losses in the service sector, affecting mostly young people.

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