Estonia Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

Available data indicate that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the adult general population aged 15-64 years in Estonia, and its use is concentrated among young people, with males generally reporting cannabis use more frequently than females.

Data from the 2008 general population study indicate that use of illicit drugs among Estonian adults had increased since 2003, as, in 2008, the number of young adults aged 25-34 years reporting having tried an illicit drug at some point in their lives was twice that in 2003. Amphetamines were the most common stimulants used by the adult general population in 2008.

Drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students was reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey has been conducted in Estonia since 1995. The lifetime use of NPS and lifetime use of cannabis among Estonian students was higher than the ESPAD average (based on data from 35 countries), while lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis was in line with the ESPAD average. Estonian students less commonly reported use of any alcohol during the last 30 days, while heavy episodic drinking during the last 30 days was in line with the average. The long-term trend indicates an increase in prevalence rates for cannabis use among 15- to 16-year-olds between 1995 and 2007, with some signs of stabilisation in the 2011 and 2015 studies.


Estimates of last-year cannabis use among young adults (15-34 years) in Estonia


NB Estimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2008.


Substance use among 15- to 16-year-old school students in Estonia

NB ESPAD study 2015.

High-risk drug use and trends

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on the first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform understanding on the nature and trends in high-risk drug use.

High-risk drug use in Estonia is mainly linked to the injection of illicit drugs. Available data indicate that the majority of an estimated more than 9 800 people who inject drugs (PWID) primarily use opioids; in recent years fentanyl has become the main injected opioid substance. However, estimates of the size of the population of high-risk opioid users are not available in Estonia. Studies among clients of harm reduction programmes report that amphetamine use remains common among some groups of PWID, particularly in the eastern parts of the country (bordering with Russia).

Data from specialised treatment centres in Estonia also indicate that opioids (mainly illicit fentanyl or 3 methylfentanyl) were the most commonly reported primary substances for first-time clients entering treatment in 2015; however, the long-term trend since 2008 indicates a decrease in the new treatment entries as a result of opioid use. The majority (around 70 %) of all treatment clients whose primary substance of use was opioid injected it. In general, one out of five treatment clients were female, but the proportion of females among treatment clients varies by the type of programme and type of illicit drugs used.

Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment in Estonia

NB Year of data 2015, or latest available year.

High-risk drug use in Estonia is mainly linked to the injection of illicit drugs


Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment in Estonia



NB Year of data 2015. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.

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