The Turkish Health Ministry has said the number of underage drug users increased in 2014, a year which saw a sharp rise in the number of people treated for drug addiction across the country.
In 2014, a total of 231,412 young people in Turkey were examined for drug addiction or use, up from 202,495 people the year before, according to the ministry's data. There was also a sharp rise in the number of both outpatient and inpatient treatments across the country, from 9,870 outpatients and 911 inpatients in 2013 to 14,524 outpatients and 1,315 inpatients in 2014.
The ministry decided to establish Child and Teen Drug Addiction Treatment Centers (ÇEMATEM) in an effort to treat drug users in Ankara and combat this increasing trend.
Underage patients in Ankara are first sent to child psychiatrists and then sent to ÇAMATEM, located in the western province of Bursa, if needed. After the number of underage drug addicts increased, the ministry decided to open a treatment center in Ankara as well.
The Health Ministry prefers to continue the treatment of children in their own homes under the supervision of their families if the conditions are suitable and they do not show problems during the treatment process.
They are sent to ÇAMATEM centers if their treatment processes take longer than expected.
Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said in February there were a total of 33 rehabilitation centers across Turkey, with only two of them serving outpatients. He added 24 new rehabilitation centers were planned to be opened.
Müezzinoğlu said the current infrastructure of the ÇAMATEM locations could not determine the use of synthetic drugs, such as the street drug known as “bonzai,” adding that tests to determine such drug usage were being made available at other hospitals, especially where synthetic drug use was high.
Upon a question on how many people had recovered from addiction in the past five years, Müezzinoğlu likened addiction to diabetes and said, “Just like diabetes, there are a set of rules to follow in order to preserve health after the rehabilitation process.”