Guram Imnadze: "The level of drug use among teenagers in Georgia is twice as high as in Europe"
Drug use among adolescents in Georgia
According to research, the level of drug use among minors in Georgia is twice higher than in Europe. Guram Imnadze, Director of the Justice Program of the Center for Social Justice, told Interpressnews about it in an interview.
Referring to the results of European school surveys, which are conducted every 4-5 years, including in Georgia, Imnadze said that pharmacy drug addiction is a special problem among teenagers. According to him, teenagers use substances that are “more financially accessible,” and the state has no effective mechanisms to control and combat this.
“However, here too, it is important to take more systematic steps to combat this problem in the school space, in the education system. First of all, in the direction of prevention, and teenagers should know more about this problem,” says Imnadze.
In his opinion, the fact that a very small proportion of people still take drugs from the “methadone program” and share them with others shows that “something is wrong” with the program itself.
“Methadone program” is substitution therapy, which involves administering a substitute drug to the patient over a long period of time.
According to experts, it is desirable that such treatment be carried out in a comprehensive manner, along with psychosocial support. To date, such maintenance therapy is considered by international experts to be the most effective means of treatment, decriminalization, social integration and harm reduction for opioid addicts who use “street drugs”.
The main value of substitution therapy is that beneficiaries do not have to resort to various, including criminal, methods to find money and buy drugs on the black market.
Substitution therapy is qualitatively not a drug component, and its main goal is to replace “street drugs” with legal drugs.
The substitution therapy program in Georgia was first implemented in 2004 with funding from the Global Fund and was designed for a few dozen patients.
Since the summer of 2017, the principle of co-financing was abolished, and the state program became absolutely free for patients.
According to unofficial data, the number of drug addicts in Georgia reaches 50,000 people.
- Drugs become more accessible in Armenia through social networks
- Abkhaz drug dealers to face death penalty
According to Guram Imnadze, although the program is absolutely free, it is still not fully accessible. Instead of joining the free program, people prefer to risk their health and freedom:
“It is necessary for the government to ensure that the country has a prevention system in place, that citizens know about the risks associated with drug use, how to avoid drug use, and how to reduce the harm caused by drug use. Even though the program is free, there are many barriers, too many people do not participate and take advantage of the black market and creating a demand for drugs there”.