Valletta accounts for nearly seven per cent of Maltese drug users in rehabilitation despite having just 1.5 per cent of the country’s population, a national drugs report has revealed.

During 2010, a total of 506 drug-related arrests were made

Published last week by the National Commission on the Abuse of Drugs, Alcohol and Other Dependencies, the report reveals how last year Malta’s capital pipped Żabbar, the 2009 champion, to the unenviable title of Maltese drug capital.

The southern harbour region, which stretches from Cottonera to Sliema, is Malta’s most problematic drug area by some distance, with almost double the rate of persons in treatment than the second most troubled region, the northern harbour zone.

Gozo, with approximately 24 in treatment per 10,000 people in 2010, is the region with the smallest number in treatment. Somewhat worryingly, however, the figure is practically double Gozo’s 2009 rate.

With data concerning drug supply, use and treatment as well as statistics related to health and drug prevention services, the report provides several interesting statistical morsels concerning drugs in Malta.

It found that of the 1,936 people who received some form of drug rehabilitation treatment in 2010, the vast majority – 80 per cent – were in treatment due to heroin use, with a further 11 per cent there for cocaine-related issues.

At 32, the median age of people receiving treatment for heroin problems in 2010 was significantly higher than the 25 median age registered in 2009.

Drug-related deaths are low compared to other European countries, with an average of seven such deaths every year.

The report also cites data derived from the 2007 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs.

It had found that alcohol was by far the most commonly used drug by students, with 73 per cent having consumed it in the 30 days prior to the survey and almost one in five students saying they had gotten drunk at least once in the previous month.

The southern harbour region, which stretches from Cottonera to Sliema is Malta’s most problematic drug area

The ESPAD study had also revealed that 16 per cent of students had sniffed inhalants such as glue or paint thinner at least once in their lifetime, 13 per cent had tried cannabis and 11 per cent of students having mixed alcohol with pills, generally tranquilisers.

During 2010, a total of 506 drug-related arrests were made, with 445 of those resulting in arraignment. Most of those arraignments were on drug possession charges.

Police had a good year in 2010, with 293 drug seizures in 2010 – a 22 per cent increase over 2009.

More than four out of every five individuals charged with drug-related offences in 2010 was male and between 15 and 30 years of age.

The vast majority of those charged were Maltese.

Drug addiction’s negative social impact could be seen in the correlation between drug use and care orders.

Of the 36 care orders issued by the government in 2010, a full two-thirds were for children whose parents were classified as drug users.

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