Estonia Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

The last general population study on drug use in Estonia dates back to 2008, however some more recent studies on risk behaviours among the adult general population (in 2014, 2015 and 2016) also explored illicit substance use. The available data indicate that cannabis remains 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. Amphetamines were the most common stimulants used by the adult general population in 2008 and 2015.

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Drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students is reported by 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 new psychoactive substances (NPS) and lifetime use of cannabis among Estonian students were higher than the ESPAD averages (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.

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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 first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform an understanding of the nature of and trends in high-risk drug use.

Available data indicate that the majority of people who inject drugs (PWID) in Estonia primarily use opioids, mainly fentanyl. Estimates of the size of the population of high-risk opioid users are not available in Estonia. Studies among injectors report that amphetamine use also remains common in the eastern parts of the country bordering Russia.

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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 2016; long-term trends indicate a decrease in the number of first-time clients entering treatment with opioids as their primary drug between 2008 and 2014, followed by an increase between 2015 and 2016. Nearly 70 % of all treatment clients whose primary substance of use was an opioid reported injecting as their main route of administration. 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 drug used.

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