The prevalence of use of illicit drugs in the Czech Republic has been relatively stable in recent years, with cannabis being the most commonly used substance. Illicit drug use is primarily concentrated among young adults aged 15-34 years and among males.
The most recent data from 2015 indicate that almost one in five young adults had used cannabis in the last year, which is slightly below the levels reported in studies from 2013-14. Nevertheless, the data point to an increase in cannabis use among the youngest respondents (15-19 years old) and among those aged 35-49 years. The use of other illicit substances was significantly lower than that for cannabis.
MDMA/ecstasy was the most common stimulant used among the general population and its use was concentrated primarily among young adults. Methamphetamine ('pervitin') use is less common among the general population, but it is the main substance linked to problem drug use in the Czech Republic.
The latest study indicates that fewer than 5 in 100 adults have ever tried new psychoactive substances (NPS). As for other substances, the use of NPS is higher among males and young adults aged 15-34 years.
Prevalence of drug use is higher among certain subgroups of young people. For example, the prevalence of cannabis use among clients of low-threshold centres (free-time clubs) for children and young people who are at risk is almost twice as high as in the general school population of the same age.
Estimates of last-year drug use among young adults (15-34 years) in the Czech Republic
NB Estimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.
Substance use among 15- to 16-year-old school students in the Czech Republic
NB Source: ESPAD study 2015.
České Budějovice participates in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaigns undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE). This study provides data on drug use at a community level, based on the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites in sources of wastewater. The results indicate that levels of MDMA residues in České Budějovice wastewater are generally low; however, an increase was registered between 2011 and 2016. Cocaine levels were also found to be low, but the levels of methamphetamine residues are consistently high and, in fact, among the highest in the Europe.
The most recent data on drug use among students are reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drug (ESPAD). Drug use prevalence among Czech students was similar to the European average in the case of lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and lifetime use of inhalants, while the average lifetime NPS use was higher. For all remaining variables, the Czech results were well above the ESPAD average. Most notable is the fact that lifetime use of cannabis and lifetime use of tranquillisers or sedatives without prescription were more than twice as high as the European average (37 % versus 16 % and 16 % versus 6 %, respectively). In addition, last-30-day alcohol use and heavy episodic drinking were clearly above average, as was last-30-day cigarette use. The long-term analysis found a decline in cannabis use from its peak in 2007 and a reduction in alcohol consumption between 2011 and 2015.
Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment services, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform understanding on the nature and trends in high-risk drug use.
In the Czech Republic, high-risk drug use is mainly linked to the use of home-made methamphetamine, known locally as ‘pervitin’, which is normally injected. It is estimated that there are 34 200 primary methamphetamine users, while approximately 12 700 people are primary users of heroin or other opioids. Long-term analysis indicates that the estimated total number of problem drug users has increased by more than 50 % over the last 10 years, with slight increases noted for all types of drugs, including injecting drug use. Although buprenorphine remains the main drug of choice among high-risk opioid users, in recent years concerns have been raised concerning the increased misuse of opioid-based pain medications among problem drug users.
Data from specialised treatment centres also show that amphetamines (mainly methamphetamine) were the most commonly reported primary substance for new clients entering treatment during 2015, followed by cannabis.
Methamphetamine is often used in the context of polydrug use with opioids. The data from clients entering treatment also confirm that injecting remains the primary mode of drug use, in particular among those clients who report methamphetamine and opioids as their primary drug. The long-term trend indicates an increase in the age of drug treatment clients. Approximately one third of clients in treatment are female; however, this proportion varies by type of programme and by the type of substance for which they enter treatment.
The high-risk drug use in the Czech Republic is mainly linked to the use of homemade methamphetamine, known locally as 'pervitin'
National estimates of last year prevalence of high-risk opioid use
NB Year of data 2015, or latest available year.
Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment services in the Czech Republic
NB Year of data 2014. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.