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Key findings
  • Drug abuse, addiction, and trafficking rank second on a list of the country’s most important problems that Seychellois want their government to address. One-fourth (25%) of respondents identify these drug-related issues as one of the country’s top three challenges.
  • A majority (55%) of Seychellois say the government is performing “fairly well” or “very well” in tackling drug abuse.
  • Nearly half (46%) of citizens oppose decriminalising the sale and consumption of marijuana or cannabis.
  • More than one-third (37%) of Seychellois consider intensifying efforts to reduce drug trafficking the most effective strategy to combat drug abuse. o A further 28% say heavily penalising drug users is the best option.
  • More than four in 10 respondents (44%) think that ordinary Seychellois can play a role in the fight against drug abuse.

The World Drug Report 2022 from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (2022)  estimates that about 284 million people worldwide used illicit drugs in 2020, a 26% increase  over the past decade. In addition to endangering the physical and mental health of the  user, the adverse effects of drug abuse ripple across societies and generations, including its  links to violence and other forms of crime.  

In Seychelles, a surge in heroin use has more than quadrupled the estimated number of  users, from 1,200 in 2011 to 5,000-6,000 in 2019 – meaning that nearly 10% of the country’s working-age population is dependent on the drug (Saigal, 2019). This would give Seychelles  the highest national per-capita heroin-use rate in the world. Cannabis is also widely  consumed, while the use of other drugs, such as crack cocaine and methamphetamines, is steadily rising (Bird, Stanyard, Moonien, & Randrianarisoa, 2021). 

Seychelles’ Division for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation (DSAPTR)  endeavours to curb drug abuse through a variety of programmes. Its methadone treatment programme, based on an approach to drug policy that views drug addiction as a chronic  disease, has received local criticism for its distribution of needles, which seeks to avert the  spread of HIV and hepatitis C through the sharing of needles (Rodrigo, 2022).  

Meanwhile, reports of police harassment of drug users has raised concern within civil society  that Seychelles will move toward a “zero tolerance” approach under which drug users are  penalised rather than assisted (Bird et al., 2021). 

In its first-ever survey in Seychelles, Afrobarometer included a special module of questions to  explore citizens’ views related to drugs. Seychellois say that drug abuse, addiction, and  trafficking should be the government’s second-highest priority, trailing only management of  the economy. A majority of citizens think the government is doing a decent job of tackling  drug abuse, but views are divided on whether ordinary Seychellois can play a role in fighting  drug abuse.  

Only about one-third of respondents favour legalising the sale and consumption of  marijuana. Asked what they consider the most effective strategy to curb drug abuse,  Seychellois most often cite intensifying efforts to reduce trafficking and enforcing severe penalties for users. 

Anne Okello

Anne is the assistant project manager for East Africa