EMCDDA logo Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the European Union 2001

Home of the Annual Report
Introduction to the annual report
Chapter 1: Drug demand and drug supply
Chapter 2: Responses to drug use
Chapter 3: Selected issues
Chapter 4: The drugs problem in central and eastern European countries
Situation and trends
Policy and institutional
responses
Money laundering
Figures and tables
 
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CHAPTER 4

Situation and trends

On the whole, the major trends identified in 2000 are confirmed:

  • an increase in the percentage of the general population, especially schoolchildren who have tried illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime;

  • an increase in demand for treatment, mostly for opiate dependency;

  • change in the patterns of drug use, with imported heroin increasingly taking the place of locally produced opiates;

  • a spread of drug use from major urban centres to all regions;

  • an increase in the problems and challenges associated with the trafficking and transit of illicit drugs.

Prevalence and patterns of drug use

According to the data collected by the European school survey project on alcohol and other drugs (ESPAD) in 1995 and 1999, lifetime experience of illicit drug use among schoolchildren (15 to 16-year-olds) doubled during the same period in all central and east European countries (CEECs), except in the Czech Republic, where this prevalence was already quite high and increased one and a half times (see Figure 33).

 
Figure 33, Lifetime experience of any illegal drugs (all students - ESPAD)

Table 4

Lifetime experience of ecstasy, amphetamines and LSD use among schoolchildren, ESPAD 1995-99
  Ecstasy Amphetamines LSD
1995 1999 1995 1999 1995 1999
Bulgaria - 1 - 1 - 1
Czech Republic 0 4 2 5 2 7
Estonia 0 3 0 7 1 3
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - 1 - 0 - 1
Hungary 1 3 0 2 1 4
Latvia 0 6 0 4 0 4
Lithuania 0 4 0 2 0 2
Poland 0 3 2 7 1 5
Romania - 0 - 0 - 0
Slovak Republic - 2 0 1 0 4
Slovenia 1 4 0 1 1 3
 

This increase reflects mostly the rise in the use of cannabis, which remains the most common drug used among teenagers.

In parallel, a significant but smaller increase, has been detected in the use of drugs like ecstasy, amphetamines, or LSD (Table 4).

However, some data collected at city level or in more targeted subgroups reveal that the prevalence of synthetic drugs use may be greater than that suggested by national figures, although accurate data on the number of users in the population are not available.

In Lithuania, in the 1999 ESPAD study, lifetime prevalence of any illicit drugs among schoolchildren was found to be at 22.7 % in Vilnius, and at 23.9 % in Klaipeda, while the national average was 15.5 %.

In the Czech Republic, in a study carried out on the 'techno' party scene in Prague during 1998 and 1999, lifetime prevalence was found to be at 44.5 % for amphetamines, 35.7 % for ecstasy and 47.7 % for hallucinogens (compared respectively with 5 %, 4 % and 7 % in the ESPAD study carried out at national level).

Table 5

Number of demands for treatment in the CEECs since 1993 (all demands)
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Albania n.a. n.a. 27 63 334 523 615
Bulgaria n.a. n.a. 254 449 582 974 1071
Czech Republic(1) n.a. n.a. 2 470 3 252 3 132 3 858 3 889
Estonia n.a. 246 366 755 n.a. n.a. n.a.
FYROM 82 116 242 301 431 n.a. n.a.
Hungary(2) n.a. 2 806 3 263 4 233 7 945 8 957 12 765
Latvia n.a. 781 804 904 992 1 080 1 512
Lithuania(3) n.a. n.a. n.a. 1 804 2 871 2 862 3 082
Poland 3 783 4 107 4 223 4 772 n.a. n.a. n.a.
Romania n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 646 650 n.a.
Slovakia n.a. 1 189 1 239 1 594 2 074 2 199 2 236
Slovenia(1) 141 187 125 309 n.a. n.a. n.a.

NB

n.a. = data not available.
(1) First demand for treatment.
(2) Number of treatment cases (non harmonised indicator).
(3) Number of registered users.

Treatment demand

The demand for treatment - mostly for opiate use - still appears to be increasing

However, it should be underlined that patterns of consumption, as well as the problem substances themselves, may differ substantially from one country or one region to another.

Availability

Major seizures along the Balkan route and in central Europe in 1999 and 2000 confirm the role of the region in the transit and storage of heroin. It is notable that the total amount of heroin seized by the Bulgarian authorities in 2000 is 2 079 kilograms, which is more than the total amount seized during the preceding six years. Most of these seizures are made at the main checkpoint with Turkey. Corresponding increases cannot be seen elsewhere on the Balkan route. However, as heroin consumption rises, it seems that the CEEC countries are increasingly becoming targets as well.

Central and eastern Europe continues to be a transit region for cannabis destined for the EU Member States. In 2000, seizures are reported from most of the countries. Studies show that cannabis is the most widely used drug in the CEECs and there are suggestions that, as is the case in the EU, there has been a noticeable increase not only in illegal traffic but also in the cultivation of cannabis in the region.

The transit role of central and eastern Europe in cocaine trafficking seems to have developed further during 1999 and 2000. Major cocaine seizures involved Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania. Yet consumption seems to be limited to particular segments of the population, the size of which is difficult to estimate through existing monitoring systems.

Popularity of synthetic drugs is growing among young people (Table 4) and there are worrying signs that an increased number of juveniles are involved in the trafficking and selling of drugs. The production of synthetic drugs has increased and its consumption influences the life of more and more young people. Illegal laboratories producing amphetamines exist in most of the CEECs, and precursors for production purposes are being smuggled from other CEECs, the EU or third countries.

Illegal laboratories have been dismantled in almost all of the countries in the region. In particular, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Baltic States seem to be major producers. For example, despite the dismantling of seven laboratories in Poland in early 2000, it is estimated that at least the same number could still be operational. The worldwide prevalence of ecstasy use has led to the export of the drug from the EU to markets in central and eastern Europe. Law-enforcement agencies report that a significant proportion of the ecstasy used in the CEECs originates in the Netherlands.

 

Situation and trends | Policy and institutional responses | Money laundering
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