Bulgaria Drug Addiction and Treatment

Bulgaria lies directly in the path of one of the major heroin trafficking routes on the planet - the Balkan route for transport of heroin from Afghanistan to European cities. As a result, it’s estimated that the bulk of the 110 tons of heroin consumed in Europe each year passes through Bulgaria. Relatively little of it is seized - it’s thought that only two percent of the drug shipments in Bulgaria are intercepted by the police or customs agents. For comparison, as much as 20 percent of all transported heroin products entering Iran from Afghanistan are seized.

The Balkan route takes these drugs across a number of national borders: From Afghanistan to Iran to Turkey to Bulgaria to Greece and Albania, then perhaps into Italy or Germany or the Netherlands for distribution to other European countries. Or they could travel on a more northerly route from Bulgaria through Romania and then into Western Europe. The UN states that each time a heroin shipment crosses a national border, the price doubles. So a gram of heroin may cost $3 in Kabul but $100 in London, the end of the heroin smuggling line.

Since Bulgaria joined the European Union, law enforcement and customs presences have improved somewhat. This change seems to have recently started a shift of trafficking patterns to the north of the Balkans, through Russia and the North Sea.

Bulgaria is a Source Country for Other Drugs

Two main drugs are often sourced to Bulgaria: cannabis and its derivative hashish or cannabis resin, and Captagon. Captagon was previously a legitimate pharmaceutical compound that contained a drug that the body would break down into amphetamine. When legitimate production ceased, illicit production started. Now, the ingredients of this counterfeit Captagon vary widely but amphetamine is usually one of the main ingredients found.

The manufacture of these two drugs means that trafficking patterns don’t just run west from Afghanistan to Europe, they also run to the east, carrying cannabis and Captagon into Turkey and beyond. Precursor chemicals for the manufacture of heroin also travel on this route. In 2008, Turkey seized 163 kilograms of amphetamine and three million Captagon tablets. Ninety-five percent of these drugs originated in Bulgaria.

The recently-elected Bulgarian government has committed resources to clamp down on substance abuse and drug trafficking. Accordingly, the quantities of drugs seized by customs officials jumped up in the months after the election. Between January and June of 2009, 169 kilograms of drugs were seized. Between July and October, the number increased to 860 kilograms.

Bulgarians Are Also Consumers of Drugs Being Transported and Manufactured

Any country that serves as a channel or source of drugs also has plenty of drugs for local appetites. In Bulgaria, fortunately, the bulk of transported drugs passes right through the country. Bulgarians mostly consume heroin, cannabis and synthetics such as amphetamine. Smaller quantities of cocaine make their way into Bulgaria and are used by the wealthy.

The Bulgarian government places the number of heroin addicts between 20,000 and 30,000 and calculates that there are between 40,000 and 45,000 people addicted any substance. Only between 4,000 and 5,000 people receive treatment each year.

Heroin addiction recovery treatment mostly consists of methadone maintenance. Thirty outpatient drug treatment facilities and 15 substance abuse treatment clinics serve adults in the country, but none will help juveniles.

Narconon Drug Education and Prevention Curriculum Comes to Bulgaria

Any time you can educate a young population against alcohol consumption or drug abuse, that country starts to build a brighter, drug-free future. Young people have a way of influencing each others’ opinions about drug abuse, so giving 100 young people accurate information about the dangers of drugs and addiction spreads that information to hundreds more in a short time. In Bulgaria, the effective Narconon drug education curriculum has begun to help young people understand how to create productive, enjoyable and drug-free lives. The drug education group is located in Radka Zhivkova and reaches out to schools and clubs in its area.

Narconon drug education specialists also participated in the “Free Bulgarian Children from Drugs” conference, where they were able to convey the drug-free Narconon message to hundreds of attendees. After the conference, dozens of people asked for more information on how they could establish Narconon drug prevention or substance abuse treatment facilities in their areas.

As more people young and old learn the Narconon message on a drug-free life, more Bulgarians can achieve freedom from substance abuse and addiction.


Narconon Drug Information Department