Drugs and youth in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is engaged in  “Programme of Comprehensive Measures to Combat Drug Abuse and Trafficking (2011-2015),” and authorities say the programme has resonated with youth. The focus has been on using media, sports and activity to combat the spread of drugs among youth. Authorities believe the programme is working. In 2010 Uzbekistan had 18,939 registered drug addicts. In June 2011, this figure had fallen by to 18,197. In 2012, it had fallen further to fewer than 17,000.

The average age at which a drug was first injected was 25.8 years old. In 95.9 % of cases, heroin was used for injecting drug consumption. Recent figures suggested that the majority of injecting drug users (64 %) had injected drugs daily. Such a frequency of drug use was mainly found among men (66.6 %) rather than among women (45.2 %). 21.3 % of drug addicts had injected drugs with non-sterile syringes after they had been used by other people; 21.9 % of drug addicts gave their own used syringes to other people.

The main factors leading to increased drug usage in the country include drug production in Afghanistan and the inflow of Afghan heroin and opium along the ‘northern route’ through the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Drugs imported to the republic are mainly intended for further transportation to other countries; however, a considerable part of the drugs is left and sold in the domestic market of Uzbekistan.

Concerns exist that the flow of drugs could accelerate in the coming years as the situation within Afghanistan changes. Creative responses to help young people are still needed in this relatively closed country.

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