Croatia Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use and responses in prison

The prison system of the Republic of Croatia consists of eight penitentiaries, including the prison hospital, 12 prisons, two juvenile correctional institutions, the diagnostics centre in Zagreb and the training centre. In 2016, a total of 11 173 people (including minors) were imprisoned in Croatia.

The National Strategy on Combating Narcotic Drug Abuse in the Republic of Croatia 2012-17 includes a special chapter dedicated to treatment of drug users in the prison system. These measures are also based on national criminal legislation, by-laws and legal acts.

The Ministry of Justice (Prison Administration) is responsible for organising healthcare for inmates, while the Ministry of Health is responsible for monitoring the provision of health services in accordance with professional standards. On admission, prisoners with a sentence longer than six months undergo a health assessment, which also includes an assessment for drug dependence. In 2016, almost one fifth of sentenced prisoners had been diagnosed with a drug dependency, with opioid and polydrug use being the most common issues. Moreover, a large proportion of prisoners treated for mental disorders have concurrent substance use problems. There has been a fall in the number of drug-dependent prisoners since 2013, which is attributed to a reduction in the total number of prisoners following the entry into force of the new Criminal Code. In accordance with the latest Criminal Code, drug possession is no longer a criminal offence. According to a study conducted in 2016, property offences are the most common type of offence for which drug-dependent individuals receive prison sentences, and they account for almost a quarter of all those imprisoned for property-related offences.

The approach to drug treatment in prison is comprehensive and includes both medical and psychosocial treatment.

Opioid substitution treatment using both methadone and buprenorphine is available in all facilities for detoxification and maintenance. Individual psychosocial treatment, modified therapeutic communities and structured programmes for the prevention of drug relapse are also available. The prison hospital also provides inpatient treatment for prisoners with drug and alcohol use problems and other mental health disorders. A social reintegration project has been implemented since 2007 and the prisons cooperate with county services to ensure continuity of care following prisoners’ release.

Harm reduction programmes in prison include training and counselling activities with the aim of reducing drug-use-related harms and improving the general medical condition of imprisoned drug users; voluntary testing for infectious diseases such as hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections; treating viral hepatitis infections; preparatory procedures and referral to HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) treatment; and motivating prisoners to become involved in treatment.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.