Drug use on the rise in the regions
Drug use is rising in the regions. In absolute terms, drug dependent persons make up a small part of the population, but the number under 15 years old has increased sharply.
On January 14th, 2014, the President signed decree № 1 “State regulation of poppy seeds trade”. Theoretically, this document was meant to regulate poppy seeds trade. Previously, Belarusian legislation did not envisage penalties for trafficking in narcotic poppy raw materials. However, this decision is unlikely to bring fundamental changes to the situation with the spread of drugs on the domestic market. In the best-case scenario, the above-mentioned decree will mean that synthetic drugs become more popular.
Opiates (opium extracts) are the most widespread type of illicit drug in Belarus. A smaller proportion use heroin and methadone. In the past two years, the use of amphetamine and methamphetamine increased in some regions bordering Russia. For example, in Vitebsk region alone, 47 large quantities of drugs were seized in 2013, the total weight of seized narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was 13 kg; 6 drug-dealing schemes were uncovered. Furthermore, smoking blends containing synthetic cannabinoids are spreading rapidly. On January 29th, smoking blends have been added to the list of banned substances.
Over the past 10 years, the number of drug users in Belarus is estimated to have increased sevenfold (per 100,000 population). Currently, over 16 thousand people are registered as drug-dependent persons, thousands more serve sentences in prison and are treated anonymously. The majority of the registered drug dependent persons are 20-40 years old. Recently, there has been a 14.5-fold increase in the number of patients younger than 15 years old.
The monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Use reported that the largest number of individuals dependent on psychoactive substances was registered in Minsk (1.5 times higher than the average in the country) and in the Gomel region (about 17 % of all drug dependent persons), the lowest - in Mogilev. Soligorsk is among the cities with the most drastic situation (almost every other drug user is living with HIV), followed by Pinsk, Svetlogorsk , Vaukavysk, and Zhlobin.