Rate of drug abuse in Egypt down by almost half since 2015: FDCTA

Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 20 Dec 2022

A huge decline in drug abuse was recorded in Egypt between 2015 to 2020, according to the Egyptian Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction (FDCTA).


The drug abuse rates were close to international levels in 2020, compared to 2015 when the rate was double the global average, Amr Osman, the FDCTA director and assistant to the minister of social solidarity, said at an event held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Friday to discuss social media and its impact on the youth.

Earlier this month, Osman said that 5.9 percent of those aged 12 to 60 abused drugs in 2020, down from 10 percent in 2014.

The rate of drug addiction among the same age group was 2.4 percent in 2020, according to surveys conducted by the fund.

The rate of drug abuse among state employees dropped from 8 percent in 2019 to 0.5 percent currently thanks to the campaign of early detection for drug abuse, which started in 2019, Osman said during the event.

The rate of drug abuse among school bus drivers also dropped from 12 percent of drivers in 2017 to 0.8 percent in 2020, Osman added.

Drugs of choice

According to a survey conducted by the fund, the reasons people abused drugs included peer pressure (35.2 percent), stress (34.8 percent), depression (30.6 percent), to help them work for longer periods of time (29.1 percent), and to give them confidence (24.9 percent), Osman said.

Drug users seeking treatment through the fund’s hotline (16023) sought treatment for abusing hashish (48 percent), the pharmaceutical opioid tramadol (22.5 percent), synthetic drugs like amphetamines and synthetic cannabinoids (17 percent), and opium (6 percent).

Although hashish was the top drug of choice from 2015 to 2020, in the first seven months of 2022 heroin was the most abused drug in Egypt (32.15 percent), followed by hashish (31.90 percent), tramadol (18.45 percent), and synthetic drugs (17 percent). 

In previous statements to Ahram Online, Osman said the abuse of synthetic drugs saw an increase from 7 to 17 percent due to a drop in the supply of other types of drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tramadol was the most abused drug in Egypt in 2015, taken by 40.7 percent of drug users.

After a surge in abuse among Egyptians, possessing the powerful opiate without a prescription was made a felony in 2014, carrying with it a possible sentence of several years in prison.

Treatment efforts

The number of FDCTA drug treatment centres increased from 12 centres in seven governorates in 2014 to 28 centres in 17 governorates currently, Osman said, adding that there is a plan to have treatment centres in all governorates by 2025.

The fund currently has 32,000 volunteers nationwide who work to spread awareness and correct misconceptions about drugs.

The FDCTA’s hotline was launched in early 2015 to offer free-of-charge and confidential treatment.

In April 2018, the Fund launched a campaign with Egyptian star football player Mohamed Salah titled “You are Stronger than Drugs,” which caused a fourfold increase in the number of those seeking addiction treatment compared to the same period last month, after only three days of being released.

Combating drug abuse

Late last year, the government announced that it would dismiss any state employee who tests positive for drugs starting 15 December 2021.

The FDCTA is currently offering free and confidential treatment to any state employee battling addiction, provided that they voluntarily apply for treatment before they are detected by the drug testing campaign.

The government has also raised the FDCTA budget in 2022/23 by 88 percent, reaching EGP 240 million, up from EGP 127 million in the past fiscal year, according to reports by parliament’s budget committee in October 2022.

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