Germany Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use and responses in prison

Since 2006, the Länder have been legally responsible for administration of the penal system in Germany; as a result, some Länder have passed their own prison laws. The general German Prison Act from 1976 applies in the remaining Länder and regulates the execution of custodial sentences and measures for rehabilitation and prevention.

In 2016, uniform data collection was introduced in prisons in all Länder with the objective of collecting information on the past drug use of all prisoners; the data will presumably be available in 2018. Around 1 in 10 prisoners is detained for drug-related offences. Data on inmates who have been treated for drug dependence indicate that most clients request treatment because of stimulant or opioid use.

Results from urine drug screening between 2014 and 2017 show an increasing use of new psychoactive substances in prison, particularly synthetic cannabinoids. In 2016-17, some deaths and several emergency calls associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids were reported.

The medical care of inmates is funded by the Ministries of Justice of the Länder, but differences between the Länder exist in the regulations and legislation that apply to prisons. Most Länder provide information material on the prevention of drug-related harms. Treatment for infectious diseases is also available. Condoms are available free of charge, but disinfectants are not generally available. One syringe distribution project exists (a syringe machine) in a women’s prison in Berlin.

Naloxone kits to prevent opioid overdose are provided by one pilot project to inmates who have completed the relevant training on their release from prison. In 2013, the Professional Association on Drugs and Addiction issued a recommendation on transition management, including continued services after release, on the need to establish links with community services and for provision of vocational training and drug emergency training sessions.


Germany main page

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.