Drug use in Latvia 2017

Latvia Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

Cannabis is the most common illicit drug used by the adult general population aged 15-64 years in Latvia. Drug use is mainly concentrated among young adults aged 15-34 years, and males generally report illicit drug use more often than females. In general, lifetime prevalence of cannabis use has remained stable among young adults in Latvia. Use of other illicit drugs is less common among the general population, but, like use of cannabis, is concentrated among young adults.

Although MDMA/ecstasy is the most commonly used stimulant among young people aged 15-34 years, young adults report slightly higher last-year use of cocaine than of MDMA

Use of NPS emerged in 2011 and available data indicate that it is mainly young people who experiment with NPS; however, regular use of these substances remains uncommon.


Estimates of last-year drug use among young adults (15-34 years) in Latvia

NBEstimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.

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

NBDue to uncertainty of data collection procedures, 2015 data has limited comparability and, therefore, is not shown in the trends. Source: ESPAD study 2015.

Drug use among 15- to 16- year-old students is reported in the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This study has been conducted in Latvia since 1999 and the most recent study was carried out in 2015. The 2015 ESPAD suffered from some methodological issues in Latvia; therefore, the comparability of the Latvian data must be considered limited. The lifetime prevalence of use of NPS reported by Latvian students was higher than the ESPAD average (based on data from 35 countries), whereas lifetime use of cannabis and of illicit drugs other than cannabis were more or less in line with the ESPAD average. Of the other key substances, lifetime use of inhalants by Latvian students was clearly higher than the ESPAD average, while the results for cigarette use and heavy episodic drinking in the last 30 days were slightly above average. The long-term trend indicates a continuous increase in lifetime prevalence rates of cannabis use among Latvian adolescents from 2003 to 2011. In 2015, the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use among students was lower than in 2011; however, owing to methodological issues with the 2015 survey, trends in substance abuse among 15- to 16-year-old students should be treated with caution

High-risk drug use and trends

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk 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 Latvia is mainly linked to the use of opioids and amphetamines. In 2014, it was estimated, using a treatment multiplier method, that there were approximately 6 200 high-risk opioid users and approximately 2 200 high-risk amphetamine users in the country. Available data from other sources indicate that opioid use may have decreased, with some opioid users having switched to amphetamine in the past decade and with the use of home-made opioids (hanka) also decreasing.


Data from specialised treatment centres indicate that the number of new clients entering treatment for primary heroin or amphetamine use has declined since 2007. However, between 2014 and 2015 an increase in new heroin and amphetamines clients was reported. According to the available data, almost all new treatment clients who report primary heroin use inject the drug; injecting is also a preferred mode of more than half of primary amphetamine clients.

In 2015, cannabis was the most frequently reported primary illicit substance among new treatment clients. An increase in the number of cannabis-related treatment entries in 2013 was attributed to an increase in the number of new clients mentioning use of synthetic cannabinoids as a reason for seeking treatment. Following a reduction in new treatment demands due to synthetic cannabinoid use in the following years, the number of new treatment entries due to cannabis use had reduced. In general, cannabis users entering treatment are younger than clients seeking treatment for other illicit drug use

Approximately 15 % of all clients who entered treatment in 2015 were female; however, their proportion was highest among primary amphetamine users and lowest among cannabis users.

National estimates of last year prevalence of high-risk opioid use

NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year.


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


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

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