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Bilateral conference: Bulgaria-UK Anti-Drugs Programme

The first National Anti-Drug Strategy of Bulgaria together with a plan for its implementation were presented at an international conference held on June 12, 2003 at the Bulgarian Academy of Science in Sofia under the auspices of the Prime Minister Mr. Simeon Saxe-Coburg. In his address to the participants (audio tape) the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that drugs were threatening the society and the only way to win the battle is to enhance the cooperation between the institutions. Conference participants included ministers, police services and financial intelligence directors, customs experts,advisers to the President and the PM, organizations working for drug prevention and drug research, rehabilitation centers etc.

The strategy was elaborated jointly by Bulgarian and UK experts and covers a five-year period (2003-2008). The strategy envisages the establishment of a national unit for operational information on drugs which will collect information from the responsible institutions and will proceed with concrete measures. The new unit shall be structured on the example of the UK National Criminal Investigation Service.

Dr. Tihomir Bezlov, CSD Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Evaluation of Drugs Consumption in Bulgaria project, presented the trends in the drug abuse in the country based on the results from the first national representative survey on drugs consumption in Bulgaria. He focused on several points of interest:

  • Judging by the data of police and medical registers in the largest cities, the heroin epidemic reached its peak in 2000.
  • Predominantly Roma regions have proven to be one of the groups at greatest risk of addiction.
  • Given the present quality of heroin dependence can be questioned. As indicated by chemical analyses the degree of purity in a dose bought in the street is between 3 and 5 % (or even less in Roma-populated areas). In comparison, the heroin concentration in the period 1998-2000 was 8-12%.
  • There could be grounds to the concern that next drug epidemic could be in synthetic drugs.

In the following discussion representatives of drugs rehabilitation centers opposed the theses arguing that heroin does create dependence and that there is no doubt that the number of heroin users has increased.

Further information:

Agenda of the conference

Drug Use and Abuse in Bulgaria: Results of the First National Population Survey, by Tihomir Bezlov

Evaluation of Drugs Consumption in Bulgaria project

Media coverage (in Bulgarian only)

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