Cheap synthetic drug spreading in dangerous levels in Turkey
HÜRRİYET photoThe cheap synthetic drug known as “bonsai” has spread to dangerous levels in Turkey, with around 500,000 people known to be using the drug in the country, daily BirGün reported on May 30.
There are around 1.5 million drug addicts in Turkey, with approximately a third of them using bonsai, the daily reported.
The number of deaths caused by the chemical drug is also increasing, particularly among young people.
Bonsai was first produced in 2002 as a completely synthetic drug that was designed to replicate the effects of marijuana. It spread around Europe until it started to be banned starting in 2008.
The drug was largely unknown in Turkey at the time but entered police records for the first time in the country in 2010. The number of bonsai users has sharply increased since then.
The drug is even sold online on websites which ostensibly sell fertilizers. Internet users that purchase bonsai on such sites usually receive delivery in three to seven days.
Bonsai has spread rapidly due to its low price and large number of suppliers, according to BirGün. Even though it costs nearly the same as heroin, bonsai can be sold in small amounts, reducing the price for the user.
Another factor resulting in bonsai’s spread is the fact that the drug cannot be spotted easily as addicts seem to be smoking normal cigarettes.
Contrary to assumptions that bonsai is largely abused by youth in impoverished neighborhoods, many segments of society, including white-collar workers and university students, also use the drug, according to BirGün.
The daily spoke to the victims of drug addiction.
One addict, İsmail, said he began using bonsai in recent years after having used drugs for the past 16 years.
“One day, I was at home and sitting in the garden. My children were playing with animals and I was watching them. I was gone suddenly. My circulation stopped, my heart stopped pumping blood and my body started to swallow. I vaguely remember being put in the ambulance. I was hearing sirens. They told me that my heart stopped twice at that moment and started functioning again with electroshock,” İsmail told BirGün, adding that he thought about drugs 24 hours a day.
“A friend of mine brought me bonsai. I liked it and used it for two years. However, my body started to collapse,” he also said.
Another drug addict, identified only as Özlem, said bonsai led her to use heroin after a while.
“When I was studying in university, I started using bonsai with my boyfriend. I was against drugs, but couldn’t offend him. All of the tragedies I experienced started after using bonsai,” said Özlem, a Bilkent University graduate, adding that she started using heroin after quitting bonsai.
“I was buying marijuana from a street in Cevizli [in Istanbul]. Think about it, I was going to that horrific street after work in my high heels. I was subjected to violence and was raped on that street. I had nightmarish days and couldn’t come to my senses because I was an addict,” she also said.
Özlem noted that she sought help due to her addiction and managed to quit drugs.
“I regained my smile. I forgot how to smile while using drugs,” she added.