The 2022 report of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) demonstrated that methamphetamine addiction has skyrocketed in Turkey as the number of seizures by the police and hospital admissions increased dramatically.
Istanbul ranks 10th, and Adana ranks 16th among 106 centers in Europe in meth use according to samples taken from the sewage of these provinces.
According to the report, drug availability remains very high in Europe and Turkey, while powerful and dangerous substances continue to be produced and spread. In 2020, 21.2 tons of methamphetamine were seized in the European Union (15.4 tons in 2019), and 78 amphetamine laboratories were discovered (38 in 2019).
Answering the questions of online news outlet Diken, Prof. Dr. Kültegin Ögel said, “Drug abuse was more common in the past years among those with a high socio-economic status until the spread of paint thinner, sniffing glue, and synthetic cannabinoid 'bonzai' addiction, particularly among lower-classes.”
He stated that after the crackdown of the police in lower-class neighborhoods, meth replaced the aforementioned drugs due to its easy accessibility and low cost. “Hopelessness, pessimism, bad economic conditions, and unemployment are all factors affecting the increase of the addiction,” he added. According to Ögel, meth became even cheaper than movie tickets and alcohol.
Nonetheless, meth use is also on the rise among white-collar workers due to the state of mobility it provides in the early stages of substance use before the major collapse.
Ögel states, “Drug use is not as widespread as in the EU yet, the death rates are very high. We cannot take care of our addict patients, they die from the overdose,” and added that there is a need for an urgent change in drug treatment policies.
In 2017, there were 941 overdose deaths, with methamphetamine involved in 7.8% of cases. By 2021, the number of deaths decreased to 270, but methamphetamine's involvement rose to 46.3%. Deaths caused solely by methamphetamine increased from three per thousand in 2017 to 38.3% in 2021 and to 68.8 percent in the first six months of 2022. Overall, while drug-related deaths are declining, the significant rise in methamphetamine-related deaths is remarkable.
According to a report by the Turkish Police Anti-Narcotic Crimes Department, the amount of methamphetamine seized increased every year between 2016 and 2021. The sharpest increase was in 2020 because three more tonnes meth has been seized contrary to the previous year.
The report also stated that although the percentage of male addicts is high, the rate of female meth addicts is about twice as high as other substances. Ögel stated that most female users have experienced domestic violence and that women's access to treatment is much more limited due to stigmatization and having no one to take care of their children.
While special treatment processes for women need to be carried out, the relevant units in Turkey do not work in coordination, and there is a lack of professional support.