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Czech Republic country overview — a summary of the national drug situation



Czech Republic country overview
A summary of the national drug situation

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Our partner in Czech Republic

The national focal point was established as the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in 2002 within the structure of the Office of the Government of Czech Republic, Secretariat of the Council of the Government for Drug Policy Coordination.  Read more »

Secretariat of the Council of the Government for Drug Policy Coordination

Nabr. Edvarda Benese 4
118 01 Praha 1 - Malá Strana
Czech Republic
Tel. +420 296153222

Head of focal point: Mr Viktor Mravcik

Our partner in Czech Republic

Secretariat of the Council of the Government for Drug Policy Coordination

Nabr. Edvarda Benese 4
118 01 Praha 1 - Malá Strana
Czech Republic
Tel. +420 296153222

Head of focal point: Mr Viktor Mravcik

The national focal point was established as the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in 2002 within the structure of the Office of the Government of Czech Republic, Secretariat of the Council of the Government for Drug Policy Coordination. The main objectives of the national focal point are to monitor the situation in the field of use of psychotropic substances, prepare documentation for evidence-based decision-making at national and European level and evaluate the efficiency of such actions.

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Drug use among the general population and young people

In 2012 the National Survey on Substance Use was implemented by the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction in association with the SC&C agency. A total of 2 134 respondents aged 15–64 were selected using a representative household sample. A previous general population survey using similar methodology was carried out in 2008. In addition to the general population surveys, an Omnibus survey has been carried out annually since 2011. The latest Omnibus study took place in December 2013 with a sample of 868 respondents aged 15–64, and in comparison with previous studies it examined the use of new psychoactive substances and gambling activities in more detail.

According to data from the 2012 national survey, cannabis continues to be the most frequently used illicit substance in the Czech Republic. Some 27.9 % of respondents indicated ever having used cannabis, while among young adults (aged 15–34) the lifetime prevalence rate was 46.4 %. Some 9.2 % of respondents had used cannabis in the last 12 months and 4.4 % in the last 30 days. The highest prevalence rates for last 12 months and last 30 days cannabis use were noted among respondents aged 15–24. Thus 23.3 % of 15- to 24-year-olds had used cannabis at least once in the last 12 months, while 11 % had used it in the last 30 days. Males reported recent use of cannabis more frequently than females, and the difference was particularly significant in younger age groups. The survey confirmed that use of new psychoactive substances was more common in younger adults. About 0.9 % of respondents aged 15–34 indicated that they had ever used new synthetic drugs and 1.6 % of respondents indicated that they had ever used new herbal drugs. The latest Omnibus study confirmed the patterns of illicit drug use among general population reported in previous years, and suggests a stable or slightly declining trend in last 12 months cannabis use rates over the last seven years. As the 2012 national survey also found, the use of new psychoactive substances was more prevalent among the younger population and the higher prevalence rates were reported in the 25–34 age group.

Results from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) are available from 1995 on, with the most recent survey conducted in 2011. Lifetime experience of an illicit drug other than cannabis among 15- to 16-year-olds increased from 4.3 % in 1995 to 9.0 % in 1999 and 11.2 % in 2003, and decreased to 8.2 % in 2011. Cannabis use (herb or resin) is very prevalent among this age group. In 2011 some 42 % reported that they had tried cannabis substances at least once. Lifetime use of inhalants was reported to be 8 %, hallucinogens (LSD) 5 %, and ecstasy 3 %. A decline was noted for lifetime use of cannabis (from 45 % in 2007 to 42 % in 2011), amphetamines (from 5 % in 1999 to 2 % in 2011) and ecstasy (from 8 % in 2003 to 3 % in 2011). Last year prevalence of cannabis use was 30 % and last month prevalence was 15 %, indicating a decline compared with 2003, when the highest rates were reported (36 % and 19 % respectively).

The most recent Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study among 15-year-old students, conducted in 2010, reported 31 % lifetime prevalence of cannabis use. While there was a reduction in lifetime prevalence rates between 2002 and 2006 (from 31 % to 25 %), an increase was observed between 2006 and 2010. Around one-fifth of the students had used cannabis in the last 12 months.

The latest National Report of the Czech Republic [http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/searchresults?action=list&type=PUBLICATIONS] presents additional studies on substance use among school-aged children that were carried out in 2013–14 in the framework of various European Union (EU) funded projects or at regional levels.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the 'Statistical bulletin' for more information  

High-risk drug use

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use (IDU) or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. The new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

The multiplier method, based on data from low-threshold centres and outreach programmes, is used to estimate the size of high-risk drug-use populations in the Czech Republic. In 2013 the national estimate suggested an increase in the estimated number of high-risk stimulant users (mainly using the home-made methamphetamine locally known as ‘pervitin’) when compared to 2012. Thus, in 2013 there were about 34 200 high-risk stimulant users (sensitivity interval: 34 100 – 34 350), which translates to a rate of 4.79 per 1 000 people aged 15–64 (sensitivity interval: 4.77–4.81). The estimates have been increasing gradually in the last 10 years.

The estimated number of opioid users in 2013 was 10 700 (sensitivity interval: 10 600–10 800), or 1.49 per 1 000 persons aged 15–64 (sensitivity interval: 1.48–1.51). The data suggests that of these around 3 950 were heroin users and around 7 100 were buprenorphine users, indicating a decline in the estimated number of heroin users and an increase in the estimated number of buprenorphine users in the last 10 years, but with a relatively stable total estimate of opioid users.

In 2013 the number of injecting drug users (IDU) was estimated at 42 700 (sensitivity interval: 42 450–42 900), or around 5.98 per 1 000 people aged 15–64 (sensitivity interval: 5.94–6.00).

The prevalence of frequent cannabis users was estimated based on data from the 2012 National Survey on Substance Use, which suggest that about 0.3 % of 15- to 64-year-olds use cannabis daily or almost daily.

Look for High risk drug-use in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment demand

Data on treatment demand in the Czech Republic are available through several data sources that partly overlap — the National Health Information System (NHIS), the Register of Treatment Demands administered at the national level by the Public Health Service of the City of Prague, and final reports of projects mainly carried out by NGOs. A new Act on Health Services came into force in 2012 and specifies the establishment of a National Drug Treatment Register, which will be launched for data collection in 2014 and will combine NHIS and the Treatment Demand Register.

In 2013 a total of 85 outpatient and 48 inpatient treatment units and 65 low-threshold centres contributed to the current Register of Treatment Demands.

A total of 9 784 drug users entered treatment in 2013, of which 4 634 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. As in previous years, amphetamines (mainly methamphetamine) were the most commonly reported primary substance used (70 % of all treatment clients and 74 % of new treatment clients). This was followed by opioids, reported by 17 % of all treatment clients. For new treatment clients the second most commonly reported substance was cannabis, at 16 %. Injecting remains the primary mode of drug use, in particular among those who report methamphetamine and opioids as their primary drug.

In 2013 the mean age of all treatment entrants was 29 years, while new treatment entrants were younger, on average 27 years old, and the long-term trend indicates a steady increase in the age of drug treatment clients. The male to female ratio is one of the lowest in Europe, with around two males for every female entering treatment (for all treatment clients and for new treatment clients).

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-related infectious diseases

The rate of infections (human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–acquired immune deficiency virus (AIDS), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HBC)) among drug users has remained stable in recent years. Data are available from national registers and studies involving different drug user groups.

HIV seroprevalence rates among people who inject drugs (PWID) remained consistently below 1 % between 1996 and 2013 (0.0–0.6 % in 2013). The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among the general population is relatively low and has remained stable. In 2013 the number of new HIV cases reported increased to 235, six of which were reported as related to injecting drug use.

The number of newly reported cases of acute HBV infection continued a declining trend, which is attributed to the routine vaccination introduced in 2001. In 2013, around a third of all newly reported acute HBV cases with a known transmission route were registered among PWID, which is similar to previous years.

In 2013, two-thirds of newly reported HCV cases with a known transmission route were registered among PWID, which is similar to previous years. The available data indicate a decline in the number of new HCV cases with a known transmission route registered among PWID between 2006 and 2013 from 711 to 569 cases respectively, but this number is higher than reported in recent years (506 cases were reported in 2011 and 518 in 2012). The HCV prevalence in the population of PWID indicate a downwards trend in the last five years, and in diagnostic testing of clients in low-threshold services ranged from 16.0 % in 2006 to 22.4 % in 2009. In 2010 the rate fell to 13.6 % among clients of low-threshold services, but subsequently increased slightly to 18.6 % 2012, while in 2013 it was 14.6 %. However, it is possible that the data from diagnostic testing may underestimate the HCV infection rates among PWID. The self-reported data from the Register of Treatment Demands suggest that about a third of PWID in contact with the treatment system are HCV positive, with some indication of a stabilising trend over recent years.

The prevalence rates of HIV, HCV and HBV in general are higher among clients of opioid substitution treatment programmes and prisoners.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-induced deaths and mortality among drug users

Drug-induced deaths in the Czech Republic are routinely monitored by means of a specialised register (Selection D), which covers 13 departments of forensic medicine and forensic toxicology, providing information on overdoses due to narcotic and psychotropic substances to the national focal point and also to the General Mortality Register (GMR —Selection B). Data extraction and reporting are in line with the EMCDDA definitions and recommendations.

According to the drug-induced deaths standard (deaths caused by an acute intoxication of drugs) for special registries, 38 deaths (of which were 32 males) were recorded in 2012, which is an increase when compared to 2011 data (28 cases). All death cases were confirmed by toxicology. In 2012 opiates/opioids (heroin, methadone and buprenorphine) alone or in combination with other psychoactive substance were detected in 12 deaths, while methamphetamine was found to be a principal drug in 16 deaths. In 2012 the number of death cases attributed to inhalant use increases to 10, which indicates an increase following a dramatic fall observed in 2011 (four cases).

Based on these data, the drug-induced mortality rate among adults aged 15–64 was 5.6 deaths per million in 2011, which is below the European average of 17.1 deaths per million.

According to data from the GMR, 39 drug-induced deaths (of which 27 were males) were reported in 2013. More than half (17 cases) were related to opioids and 10 were related to stimulants.

A study of the registered clients of opioid substitution treatment was carried out using data from the Substitution Treatment Register. It estimated the mortality rate at 1.3 per 1 000 registered patients. This is an underestimate, as not all physicians report all patient deaths. Several mortality cohort studies among drug users have been published and their results presented and discussed in the National reports to the EMCDDA.

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment responses

Treatment-related objectives in the National Drug Policy Strategy 2010–18, and its Action Plan, place emphasis on enhancing the availability and quality of addiction treatment services in the country. Addiction treatment and care services in the Czech Republic are funded by subsidies from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination (GCDPC), regional and municipal administrations and health insurance companies. An independent agency is responsible for the accreditation of drug treatment at clinics and inpatient facilities.

In the Czech Republic addiction treatment is delivered through three different systems:(1) the network of low-threshold programmes and specialised outpatient and aftercare programmes and therapeutic communities (non-healthcare specific); (2) the network of specialised healthcare facilities that provide outpatient and inpatient services; and (3) outpatient smoking cessation programmes, which target smokers only. The core of addiction treatment services are outpatient and outreach programmes (in total 204), while 50 programmes provide residential in-patient care. Almost half of the facilities have valid professional competency certification by the GCDPC and 40 % of the facilities are registered as social services. Outpatient services are provided by outpatient psychiatric clinics and medical facilities, general practitioners and day-care centres. Opioid substitution treatment (OST), psychosocial support programmes and aftercare are available in these settings. Inpatient services are divided into short-term (four to eight weeks), medium-term (three to six months) and long-term (seven or more months) services and is provided by a network of psychiatric hospitals and hospital addiction treatment wards, and a network of therapeutic communities. In inpatient settings, detoxification, residential abstinence–oriented treatment, residential care based on the therapeutic community principle, or targeting special groups, such as adolescents, and aftercare programmes are available. However, there are large variations at district level in the geographical accessibility of different drug treatment programmes, with detoxification and specialised aftercare programmes being among the least available. These differences are attributed to lack of appropriate healthcare facilities and a shortage of professionals willing to work with drug users. Addiction treatment is primarily delivered by public organisations and also by NGOs. It is also delivered, to a lesser extent, by private institutions, which provide three main treatment services: detoxification, outpatient care and inpatient care. NGOs mainly provide low-threshold outpatient care, and some of these programmes are accredited as healthcare facilities; 15 NGO-based therapeutic communities also provide long-term residential care for drug users. Opioid substitution treatment and outpatient and inpatient medical drug treatment are mainly financed through health insurance, whereas outpatient and inpatient psychosocial treatment is primarily funded by the public budget at national and regional/local levels. Five facilities offer specialised treatment programmes for children and adolescents.

A discussion on a psychiatric care reform strategy for 2014–20, led by the Ministry of Health, is ongoing in the Czech Republic. The reform is based on a new concept of a network of specialised addiction treatment services adopted by the Committee of the Society for Addictive Diseases of the Czech Medical Association and aims to further shift the Czech treatment system towards community-type care and introduce flexibility for service provision based on regional needs and priorities. In 2013 the review of standards of professional competency for drug services at the national level was concluded, but is still awaiting approval by the GCDPC.

OST with methadone was introduced in the Czech Republic in 1998. Five substitution agents are available: methadone, three buprenorphine medications and a composite sublingual preparation that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. OST is delivered in specialised psychiatric facilities, and is also available in prisons. In addition, any medical doctor, regardless of his/her speciality, may initiate buprenorphine-based OST. According to newly implemented aggregated reports and a survey on substitution treatment among physicians in the Czech Republic, 215 general practitioners and 59 outpatient psychiatric facilities provided substitution treatment for approximately 2 485 clients in 2013. Around 2 311clients were reported in the substitution register (from 64 health care facilities), of which 26 % were on methadone and almost 74 % on buprenorphine-based medication. Since there is an overlap between the two sources it is estimated that in total 3 606 clients received opioid substitution treatment, of which about 3 000 received buprenorphine-based medication.

See the Treatment profile for Czech Republic for additional information.  

Harm reduction responses

The National Drug Policy Strategy for 2010–18 endorses harm reduction as one of its four pillars, and defines the following priority areas: (i) development of new interventions; (ii) increase in the uptake of testing among injecting drug users; and (iii) definition of harm reduction guidelines for nightlife settings. The current (2013–15) Action Plan introduced a number of new tasks, including scaling-up harm reduction programmes for hard-to-reach and socially excluded communities and issuing guidelines for infectious diseases testing by service providers. The 2013–17 National Programme for HIV/AIDS reiterates the focus on providing services to high-risk groups.

The Czech network of low-threshold facilities, established in 1992, includes low-threshold centres (drop-in) and outreach programmes providing needle exchange in 111 units. Three vending machines and one mobile needle and syringe programme also operate in the country. These programmes operate in all regions, providing a wide range of services: clean needles and syringes, condoms, voluntary counselling and testing for infectious diseases, risk-reduction information, aluminium foil for heroin smoking, gelatine capsules for per-oral use of stimulants and other services. The number of drug users in contact with these services has been increasing over the last 11 years, and it is estimated that in 2013 these centres reached more than 38 000 individual drug users, mainly those who inject heroin, buprenorphine or methamphetamine, while an increase in the number of cannabis users seeking help from low-threshold services has also been noticed in recent years. The number of syringes distributed through needle and syringe programmes continues to increase and reached more than 6.1 million in 2013. Besides needle and syringe programmes (drop-ins and outreach work), pharmacy syringe sales are the main sources of sterile injecting material for people who inject drugs. Taking into account the high proportion of pervitin users among the problem drug use population, at least 44 programmes distribute gelatine capsules as an oral alternative to the injecting of pervitin. Around 113 000 capsules were distributed in 2013.

Treatment for HCV is available to PWID in 39 clinics across the Czech Republic, including those in prisons.

See the Harm reduction overview for Czech Republic for additional information.  

Drug markets and drug-law offences

Cannabis is the most frequently seized drug, and domestic production of marijuana has been on the increase. It is grown in both natural and artificial conditions and, with increasing frequency, on a large scale and also for export, predominantly to neighbouring countries. However, cultivated cannabis is mainly intended for the domestic market. Quantities of seized marijuana have continued to increase, and 735 kg of marijuana was seized by the Czech law enforcement agencies in 2013. In addition, 279 cannabis cultivation sites were detected, while the number of cannabis plants seized fell when compared to 2012 (73 639 plants in 2013 and 90 091 plants in 2012) but still remains above the levels reported in 2002–11. Low-volume home-based cultivation sites (6–49 plants) account for 45 % of all cultivation sites. In recent years large-scale cannabis cultivation and distribution has become more specialised and contributed to the establishment of highly organised criminal groups, mainly of Vietnamese descent, which are sometimes also involved in the sale of pervitin.

In 2013 methamphetamine (pervitin) was involved in 464 seizures. It is primarily produced for the domestic market, while data indicate it is also exported to border regions of Germany, Austria and Poland. The quantity of pervitin seized increased from around 3.8 kg in 2008 to a record 69.14 kg seized in 2013. Medicines containing pseudoephedrine are the main precursor of methamphetamine. Restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine-containing medication were introduced in 2009, which was followed by a significant rise in the illegal import of such medication from neighbouring countries, mainly from Poland. Production of pervitin predominantly takes place in low-volume home-based laboratories, which allows them to be easily relocated to avoid detection, although an increase in the proportion of high-volume laboratories has been noted. In 2013 a total of 261 pervitin laboratories were detected.

Heroin reaches the Czech Republic mainly through the Balkan route, and is imported in small shipments. In 2013 a total of 38 heroin seizures were reported, which is below the numbers reported before 2010. The reduction in the number of heroin seizures was accompanied by a sharp decline in the quantity seized, which fell to 5.05 kg in 2013, while for the period 2006–10 the quantity of heroin seized ranged between 20–46 kg per year. In 2013 buprenorphine-containing medication, fentanyl patches and morphine-based analgesics were also seized from the illicit market.

In 2013, a record amount of 106 seizures of cocaine resulted in a sharp rise in the amount of the substance seized (35.79 kg) in comparison to the period 2008–12 (which ranged from 8–16 kg). Cocaine mostly enters the Czech Republic from the Netherlands by couriers and in postal consignments. Ecstasy is not produced domestically, and is mainly imported from the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. In 2013 the number of ecstasy seizures increased sharply (114 seizures in 2013, in comparison with 12–30 seizures in the period 2007–12). The amounts seized also increased to 5 061 tablets when compared to 2012 (1 782 tablets seized), but remains below the amounts reported in 2011 and 2007–08.

Synthetic cathinones, cannabinoids and phenetylamines represent the largest proportion of new psychoactive substances seized in the Czech Republic.

In 2013 a total of 6 803 drug-law offences were reported, including criminal and administrative offences. A total of 3 701 people were arrested for drug-related crimes. The highest number of people were arrested in connection with methamphetamine, followed by those who were arrested in connection with cannabis. Although supply-related offences exceed those related to use, data from 2004–13 show that the share of use-related offences (both criminal and administrative offences) is increasing, from 30 % in 2004 to 38.2 % in 2013.

Look for Drug law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data.  

National drug laws

The Penal Code, valid since 2010 (Act No. 40/2009), is the major act concerning drug-related offences. The Penal Code regulates several aspects of drug-related offences, such as drug trafficking, unauthorised possession of drugs, conditions of prosecution, diversion of prosecution, types of penalties, etc. Licit handling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and precursors is subject to regulation according to the Addictive Substances Act (Act No. 167/1998).

Drug use is not an offence in the Czech Republic, and possession of small quantities for personal use is a non-criminal offence under the Act of Violations, punishable by a fine of up to CZK 15 000 (EUR 597). A new Penal Code has been effective since 2010 (Act No. 40/2009). For the first time it set out a distinction between cannabis and other drugs for criminal personal possession offences, whereby possession of a quantity of cannabis ‘greater than small’ would attract a sentence of up to one year, but for other substances sentences of up to two years’ imprisonment were possible (or up to 2–8 years if the quantity of drugs is ‘significant’). Also, two governmental regulations fixed threshold quantities with which to determine whether an offence was administrative or criminal — these had previously been set in non-binding prosecutor and police directives. However, in 2013 these governmental regulations were annulled by the Constitutional Court, which reiterated that only the Parliament may ‘define’ a criminal offence. In March 2014 the Supreme Court interpreted ‘quantities greater than small’ as being in ‘manifold excess of a normal dose’ and adopted all the quantity limits from the annulled governmental regulations except for cannabis and methamphetamine, where it decreased (tightened) the limits.

Penalties for drug supply are from 1–5 years to 10–18 years of imprisonment, depending on various specified aggravating circumstances. In the case of addicts committing a drug-related crime, a range of alternatives to imprisonment is available to the court (e.g. suspended sentences, community service and probation with treatment). Security detention with compulsory treatment is a possible response to addicts who are deemed to be socially dangerous, and is also an option for juvenile delinquents.

In 2009 a new category of medicines was created to restrict sales of non-prescription medicines, such as those containing pseudoephedrine (a precursor for producing methamphetamine).

Following the amendments of several Government Acts (on pharmaceuticals, on addictive substances and on administrative fees), use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes has been allowed in the Czech Republic since 1 April 2013, while provision allowing cultivation and supply of medicinal cannabis (through licencing procedure) came into force from 1 March 2014.

From January 2014, the list of controlled substances is no longer included in the Act on Addictive Substances, but in a Government Regulation. This should facilitate more rapid control of new substances in future.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information.  

National drug strategy

Originally focused solely on illicit drugs, the May 2010 National Drug Policy Strategy for 2010–18 was revised in December 2014 to address alcohol and gambling also, in a new integrated policy. The revision reflects the need to address the adverse health and social consequences of alcohol consumption, as well as the negative impact of problem gambling. The strategy is comprehensive and is based on four pillars: prevention; treatment and re-socialisation; risk reduction; and supply reduction. It is complemented by three supporting domains: coordination and funding; monitoring, research and evaluation; and international cooperation.

In the area of illegal drugs the strategy defines four key objectives: (i) to reduce the level of experimental and occasional drug use, particularly among young people; (ii) to reduce the level of problem and intensive drug use; (iii) to reduce potential drug-related risks to individuals and society; and (iv) to reduce drug availability, particularly to young people.

In the area of alcohol the strategy defines four key objectives: (i) to increase awareness of the extent and nature of the health, social and economic problems caused by harmful alcohol use and ensure the availability of effective preventive measures; (ii) to increase the availability of effective treatment interventions to reduce and prevent the health consequences caused by alcohol consumption; (iii) to reduce harms from alcohol use and its negative impact on the physical and mental health of the population, public security and work performance, and on at-risk groups (risk regions/locations, the homeless, the elderly, pregnant women); (iv) to reduce the availability of alcohol drinks, especially for children and adolescents, and to positively modify environmental factors.

In the area of gambling the strategy defines four key objectives: (i) to raise awareness on the nature and risks of problem gambling in the general population, to support the principles of so-called ‘responsible gambling’ and to ensure the availability of effective preventive measures; (ii) to reduce the extent of problem gambling and related economic, social and health impacts and to increase the availability of effective treatment interventions; (iii) to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling on physical and mental health, on the safety and property of individuals, communities and society; (iv) to improve regulatory measures of gambling and to implement measures reducing the development of problem gambling.

The implementation of the strategy is supported by a series of consecutive three-year Action Plans, with plans for the alcohol and gambling areas currently under development. Building on the results of the interim evaluation of the national drugs strategy, the current Action Plan focusing on illegal drugs covers the period 2013–15. It identifies four priorities:

  • Reduce excessive alcohol use and heavy cannabis use among young people.
  • Address the high levels of problem pervitin (methamphetamine) and opiates use.
  • Improve the effectiveness of drug policy funding.
  • Achieve an integrated drug policy.


Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

The Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination is responsible at the political level for the overall implementation of the national drug strategy. It is the main initiating, counselling and coordinating body of the government for drug issues. The Council’s scope was expanded following the revision of the drugs strategy and it now addresses alcohol and gambling issues alongside illicit drug issues. Presided over by the Prime Minister, the Council includes all Ministries involved in the delivery of the national drug policy, a representative from the Czech Association of Addictologists, and three representatives of civil society including a representative of the regions (the Association for Addictive Diseases of the Czech Medical Association; an association of NGOs dealing with drug prevention and treatment; and the Association of the Regions). In addition, its Secretariat ensures the day-to-day implementation of the strategy and the coordination of the respective Ministries’ activities. The Secretariat is part of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and also includes the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (national focal point), which is responsible for the collection, analysis and distribution of drug-related data.

A network of 14 regional coordinators manages drug-related activities (including the implementation of the national drug policy) at the regional and local levels. However, their competencies vary from region to region. Each region also draws up and implements their own strategies and plans on drug-related measures, and the extent of such plans and strategies also varies between regions. Dedicated Drug Policy Commissions exist in eight regions, with drug issues addressed by commissions with a broader remit in three other regions, while three further regions use working groups to manage drug policy. At the local level, drug coordinators have been installed in 185 municipalities (so-called ‘municipalities with extended competency’) and the 22 districts of Prague city.

Public expenditure

In the Czech Republic, the government has presented annual drug-related budgets, announcing planned labelled expenditures (1,2), since 2002. Additionally, it provides an estimate of the money effectively spent. Estimates are based on a well-defined methodology, but data completeness has changed over time. Between 2007 and 2010, unlabelled expenditures were also estimated, applying a comparable methodology (3).

In 2010 total drug-related public expenditures represented 0.06 % of gross domestic product (GDP). About 72.1 % were unlabelled expenditures, of which about 71.6 % were for supply reduction activities and the remaining for demand reduction (inpatient healthcare and medication received the largest shares). The analysis of labelled expenditures, which represented about 27.9 % of the total expenditures, had a different distribution: 76.2 % were for demand reduction and 23.8 % for supply reduction activities.

Trend analysis can only be based on labelled expenditure, and over the 2005–13 period this expenditure remained stable as a percentage of GDP (range: 0.015–0.017 % of GDP), but grew in nominal terms. The exceptions were 2009 and 2011, when total labelled expenditure declined, probably due to public austerity measures associated with the 2008 economic recession. However, in 2012 total labelled expenditure reached a level identical to that of 2008, in nominal terms. In 2013 there were no estimates for expenditure on national drug squads. If this expenditure had remained unchanged compared to 2012, in nominal terms labelled expenditure would have represented 0.017 % of GDP. Without accounting for drug squads, labelled drug-related expenditure amounted to 0.012 % of GDP.

Table 1: Total drug-related public expenditure, 2010
  Expenditure (thousand EUR) % (c)
(a) Source: National Annual report of Czech Republic (2012).
(b) Source: Vopravil, J. and Rossi, C. (2013), ‘Illicit drug market and its economic impact’, Universitalia, Universitá di Roma, Roma, February 2013.
(c) EMCDDA estimations.
Labelled public expenditures (a) 24 807 27.9
Supply reduction 5 906 23.8
Demand reduction 18 901 76.2
Unlabelled public expenditures (b) 63 968 72.1
Supply reduction 45 800 71.6
Demand reduction 18 168 28.4
88 775 100.0
Supply reduction 51 706 0.58
Demand reduction 37 069 0.42
% of GDP
0.06 %     
  • (1) This budget is not directly linked to national policy documents.
  • (2) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.
  • (3) Vopravil, J. and Rossi, C. (2013), ‘Illicit drug market and its economic impact’, Universitalia, Universitá di Roma, Roma, February 2013.

Drug-related research

The current national drug strategy emphasises the role of research, evidence and evaluation of the measures taken in the drug policy field in the Czech Republic. The Action Plan 2013–15 underlines the principle of integrating legal and illegal drugs into one policy, and support for research in the field of drugs is mentioned explicitly as one of the tasks. The evidence-based approach is currently applied in the certification process of addiction services and in the provision and development of services. Several public administration bodies and grant agencies fund research in the field of drugs, which is mainly conducted by academic centres. The National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction coordinates the collaboration and exchange of information between research institutions, service providers and public administration bodies. It publishes an annual report on the state of the drugs problem in the Czech Republic, which summarises available data about drug use and its consequences. National scientific journals are also an important dissemination channel for drug-related research findings. Recent drug-related studies mentioned in the 2014 Czech National report focused mainly on aspects related to prevalence, incidence and patterns of drug use, responses to the drug situation, and the consequences of drug use. Determinants of drug use, and supply and markets, were also mentioned.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information. 

Key national figures and statistics

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers, in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2012.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

Key figures
  Year   EU (28 countries) Source
Population  2014 10 512 419
506 824 509 ep
Population by age classes 15–24  2014  10.7 %  11.3 % bep
25–49  37.1 %  34.7 % bep
50–64  19.8 %  19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2013 82 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2012 20.8 % 29.5 % p Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2014 6.1 %  10.2 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2014 15.9 % 22.2 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2013 154.7  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2013
At risk of poverty rate 5  2013 8.6 % 16.6 %  SILC

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max. Average Rank Reporting Countries
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2013 1 1.49 0.2 10.7   6 21
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   17.2% 6% 93%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   7.8% 2% 81%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2013   20.2% 6% 42%   15 24
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2013   EUR 43 EUR 25 EUR 158   8 22
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   1.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   0.3% 0% 4% 2%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   0.1% 0% 2% 1% 1 26
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.2% 0% 39%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.3% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2013   33.0% 20% 75%   7 27
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 62 EUR 47 EUR 103   11 24
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   2.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   0.7% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   0.2% 0% 1% 1% 5 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   70.3% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.1% 0% 22%      
Purity (%) 2013 2 71.0% 5% 71%   25 25
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 63 EUR 8 EUR 63   21 21
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   3.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   3.0% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   1.1% 0% 2% 1% 21 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.1% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.1% 0% 4%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2013   38 mg 26 mg 144 mg   4 23
Price per tablet (EUR) 2013   EUR 8 EUR 3 EUR 24   13 19
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   42.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   21.6% 0% 22% 12%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   8.9% 0% 11% 6% 25 27
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   11.0% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   16.5% 5% 80%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2013   10.0% 2% 13%   16 22
Potency — resin (%) 2013   19.2% 3% 22%   18 20
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2013   EUR 7 EUR 4 EUR 25   5 19
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2013   EUR 6 EUR 3 EUR 21   5 21
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2013 3 6.28 2.0 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) 2013 3 6.0 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (rate/million) 2013 4 0.6 0.0 54.5      
HIV prevalence (%) 2013   0.0% - 0.6% 0% 49%      
HCV prevalence (%) 2013   14.6% 14% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2012   3.6 1.5 84.1      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2013   6 181 134 124 406 9 457 256      
Clients in substitution treatment 2013   3 500 180 172 513      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2013   9 784 289 101 753      
New clients 2013   4 634 19 35 229      
All clients with known primary drug 2013   9 770 287 99 186      
New clients with known primary drug 2013   4 625 19 34 524      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2013   6 803 429 426 707      
Offences for use/possession 2013   2 600 58 397 713      


See the explanatory notes for further information on the methods and definitions.

Only the most recent data are available for each key statistic. Data before 2006 were excluded.

1 - Heroin, Methadone, Buprenorphine. Benchmark: data from low threshold facilities, multiplier: nomination technique within questionnaire study among clients of low threshold facilities

2 – Data are for Methamphetamines and not Amphetamines.

3 - Heroin, Buprenorphine, methamphetamine. EMCDDA PDU definition with one basic exception. There is not cocaine included in Czech PDU definition, because cocaine use prevalence is very low and almost no measurable.

4 - Foreigners with short-time stays in the Czech Republic are not included in reported data.

Additional sources of national information

In addition to the information provided above, you might find the following resources useful sources of national data.


Page last updated: Tuesday, 07 July 2015