Rome

Italian drug consumption down, but youth at risk

Alcohol abuse, gambling a threat, says report to parliament

Italian drug consumption down, but youth at risk

(ANSA) - Rome, August 6 - Drug consumption in Italy is continuing on a downward trend, although more students are using cannabis and alcohol abuse and gambling is rising in the 15-19 age range, according to a report to parliament According to a survey of 18,000 people, there are an estimated 2.3 million drug users in the 15-64 age range, according to figures from the 2012 annual parliamentary report by the Department of Drug Policy, which is headed by the minister for international cooperation and integration, Andrea Riccardi. Riccardi warned of the dangers of oversimplifying the data, saying that although there has been an overall decline in drug use over the past few years, the types of drugs used and the tendencies of users differ from data collected in 2010. The use of drugs such as Ketamine and ecstasy, for example, has not decreased. And while young people overall are using less cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs, no decline was recorded in the 16-17 age bracket. In the south of Italy and among certain groups of women, heroin use is on the rise despite a national decrease. And in the last month a drop in consumer spending has been linked to a spike in the number of students who have tried the deadly drug. The report said 7.5% of students in the 15-19 age bracket admitted to having had problems with gambling at some point in their lives. Riccardi said he hoped that "stricter rules on advertising and greater awareness about gambling addiction will protect the most vulnerable groups, including adolescents and the elderly". Giovanni Serpelloni, the head of the department for anti-drug policies, said that the war on drug trafficking and dealing will be intensified to support regional operations, particularly the illegal cultivation of cannabis which has seen a 1.29% increase of crop seizures. Similar attention will be paid to the phenomenon of drug dealing online. "That does not just concern illegal drugs," said Serpelloni, "but also counterfeit pharmaceuticals which are taken alongside illegal drugs".

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