The use of illicit drugs has seen an upswing during the last years in the West Bank especially in cities close to the Israeli borders. Political, social, economical, and demographic factors may play roles in the increasing use of illicit drugs in the West Bank. These factors and the ascending character of this problem have increased the priorities of all who are interested to combat this problem.
Objectives: The purpose of this research is to characterize and to identify substance in use and determine current patterns of illicit substance use among Palestinians / West Bank. Specific Objectives include 1)To determine current patterns of illicit substance use among Palestinians/ West Bank, 2) To determine the demographic data of substance users, 3) To identify common substances used among Palestinians/ West Bank, 4) To identify geographical distribution of illicit substances used in Palestine / West Bank.
Methods: In order to achieve the objectives of this study, non-experimental descriptive study had been conducted. All files of all drug users and those who were captured with seized substances in all police departments (anti narcotic departments) from 2010-2014 were analyzed.
Results: In the years 2010-2014, the total number of all files in the anti narcotic department that were reviewed for this study for both suspected drug users and accused persons with captured material is 5619 (1945 and 3674; respectively) with the greatest number being in the North (67.0% and 43.0%; respectively) especially in Qalqilia followed by Tulkarm. Most of the suspected drug users and accused persons with captured materials were males (~ 99%) in the age group 18-<30 ( 61.0% and 55.9%; respectively), and most of them were singles (56% and 49%; respectively), had a primary level of education (62.4% and 56.7%; respectively), work as workers (81.5% and 72.3%) mostly in the West Bank (66.2% and 64.4%; respectively), followed by Israel (31.9% and 33.2%; respectively). Although most of them had Palestinian Nationality, 2.3% of suspected drug users and 7.5% of accused persons with captured materials had Israeli Nationality. In relation to the number of cases, the most common captured substances at the time of arrest were hashish (56.3%) followed by hydro (26.6%),ecstasy (6.8%), marijuana (5.8%),and heroin (2.8%), cocaine (1. 7%) and clonex (2.0%). Less common (<1%) captured substances were tramadol, methadone, qat, and assival. The most common substances used by both groups, suspected drugs users and persons accused with captured substances, were hashish (79.3% and 74.3%; respectively), followed by hydro (26.6% and 16.4%; respectively) and marijuana (15,4% and 15,1%) with a sharp increase in the use of hydro in the years 2013-2014 at the expense of hashish. The most common duration of drug use is more than one year for both suspected drug users (82.1%%) and accused persons with captured material ( 81.8%) indicating that most of them were addicted.
The results indicate that the that the seriousness of the problem of drug use is that most of the drug users were young, singles, and most of them were addicted (mainlyto cannabis) as they had used drugs for more than one years. Factors that may increase the chances of drug use among young people include school dropout and work in Israel, especially at an early age . Continuing education may be one way to reduce this phenomenon where the number of drug users has dropped sharply with an increase in the level of education. Also, tighter surveillance of the nearby areas of Israeli areas may reduce the spread of the problem between Palestinians.