Fact Check: Statistics DON'T Show That 82% Of Bulgarian Students Up To 8th Grade Use Drugs

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  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: Statistics DON'T Show That 82% Of Bulgarian Students Up To 8th Grade Use Drugs Exaggerated

Do 82 percent of Bulgarian students up to the eighth grade (12 to 13 years old) take drugs? No, that's not true: A European survey showed that number was less than 3 percent. The former National Security Services (NSS) officer Nikolay Markov made this allegation after verbally attacking Western nations like the U.S., U.K. and Germany for interference in Bulgarian affairs and exempting Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin from any responsibility for Bulgaria's woes.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok on October 5, 2023. The video is an excerpt from the "This is how they ruin Bulgaria" Investclub Podcast interview with Markov. At the 8:56 mark, Markov made the following statement (translated from Bulgarian to English by Lead Stories staff):

It is not Russia that makes the politics here (in Bulgaria). Does Putin appoint the ministers and the Parliament? Probably by a decree? Is Putin selling drugs near our schools? 80 percent of children use drugs. 82 percent according to the latest statistics. Children up to 8th grade. Is this Russian policy? Go to Moscow to see how it is there? Check if drugs are sold in front of the schools there? Yes, the elite might have it, but they are 1-3 percent, everyone else doesn't. Children are healthy, bright and fresh there. They play sports but here (in Bulgaria) there are no sports grounds, no kindergartens, nothing. There are cemeteries that are increasing tremendously every day.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-11-28 220858.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Nov 28 19:09:02 2023 UTC)

The interview in which Markov slammed the Western countries and blamed them for meddling in Bulgarian affairs was widely circulated on social media.

According to the 2019 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), the rates of early use of cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamine/methamphetamine and cocaine/crack were between 1.5 and 3 percent for the different drugs among students in Bulgaria at the age of 13 or younger, as the screenshot below shows.Screenshot 2023-11-29 230645.png

(Source: ESPAD Report 2019 screenshot taken on Wed Nov 29 20:06:47 2023 UTC)

The 2020 data for Bulgaria in the European Drug Report 2023 shows that 3 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds have used cocaine, amphetamines or MDMA (ecstasy) in their lifetime, and 17 percent have used cannabis, as the screenshots below show. These percentages include all the children who first consumed these substances at this age.

Screenshot 2023-11-29 231658.png

Screenshot 2023-11-29 231738.png

Screenshot 2023-11-29 231823.png

Screenshot 2023-11-29 231902.png

(Source: European Drug Report 2023 screenshot taken on Wed Nov 29 20:19:03 2023 UTC)

According to the Bulgarian National Focal Point on drugs and drug addiction, the most recent regional statistics on children's drug use are from 2022. These statistics include some Bulgarian cities and refer to students in grades 5-7. In Haskovo, 1.7 percent of these students reported having used drugs at some point in their life, while in Veliko Tarnovo the percentage was 2.5 percent and in Razgrad it was 1.5 percent.

The National Patients' Organization conducted a survey in 2021 among 4,109 students in Bulgaria. In their lifetime, 14.7 percent of them have tried some kind of illicit drugs. The most common drug was cannabis (11.9 percent), followed by amphetamines (5.5 percent), cocaine (4.9 percent), hashish (4.8 percent), ecstasy (3.9 percent), methamphetamines (3.4 percent) and hallucinogens (2.0 percent). The youngest average age of onset was 14 years, especially for inhalants (paradise gas, acetone, adhesives). Cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids and hallucinogens were first used by 15-year-olds. Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines and ecstasy) were first tried at 16 years old on average.

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