Cannabis popular among young Austrians as drug death toll rises

Up to four out of 10 young Austrians have smoked marijuana at least once, it has been announced.The Federal Institute for Health said today (Fri) that 26 per cent of Austrians aged between 20 and 24 said they have tried cannabis, LSD, heroin or other drugs at least once. The body also said just four per cent of Austrians aged between 60 and 69 said the same.The authority explained hashish had the highest consumption rate among young adults since 30 to 40 per cent smoked cannabis at least once in their lives, while fewer than two per cent took heroin.It further identified five per cent of Austrians as alcoholics.Previously presented research said 41 per cent of Austrian woman and 27 per cent of Austrian men were smokers.The Federal Institute for Health explained a vast majority of 80 per cent of people who tried marijuana stopped smoking it at some later stage in their lives, while six out of 10 cocaine addicts managed to get clean.It warned that studies have shown only 10 per cent of alcoholics and 38 per cent of smokers managed to get clean.Another result presented today is that 187 people died as a result of taking drugs last year (2008: 169). The institute stressed that the actual number of drug deaths might be higher since the fewer autopsies have been carried out during the past years than in previous decades.Meanwhile, a leading sports physician has warned Austria was developing into a “sick society”.Hans Holdhaus, head of medical and sports consulting firm ISMB Austria, announced studies showed that the percentage of overweight secondary school students had risen from 24 to 44 per cent during the past four years.”We are becoming a sick society,” Holdhaus said. He added: “Physical activity is the key. Today’s society doesn’t have as much of a nutrition problem as it has a sports issue. Physical activity can compensate for many dietary errors.”Holdhaus warned that health problems which usually occur in people aged 60 to 80 would soon affect people at the age of just 30, 40 or 50.Fifty-seven per cent of Austrian men and 43 per cent of Austrian women are overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).