Czechia Country Drug Report 2019

Harm reduction

The National Drug Policy Strategy 2010-18 endorses harm reduction as one of its four pillars and is operationalised through triennial action plans, the current one of which covers the period 2016-18. Harm reduction actions are focused on (i) reducing the risks of negative health consequences for people who use drugs, such as overdoses, infectious diseases and other somatic and psychiatric comorbidities; (ii) reducing the risks of negative social consequences for people who use drugs, such as unemployment, problems in family life and social interactions and/or offending; and (iii) reducing the level of drug use and increasing the motivation of people who use drugs to resume a drug-free lifestyle.

Harm reduction interventions

The Czech network of low-threshold facilities consists of more than 100 low-threshold (drop-in) centres and outreach programmes. These harm reduction programmes operate in all regions and provide a wide range of services, including the distribution of clean needles, syringes and other paraphernalia, the provision of condoms and testing for infectious diseases, as well as counselling, healthcare, hygienic services and referrals. In two cities, syringes are also available from vending machines. Special street bins for the safe disposal of used injecting equipment have been installed in Prague. These services are mainly delivered by non-governmental organisations and are financed through grant systems that have been established at national and regional levels.

The number of drug users in contact with harm reduction services has been increasing over the past decade and, in 2017, low-threshold services with needle and syringe programmes reached more than 39 000 people, more than one quarter of whom were new clients. In the past decade, the number of syringes distributed to clients through needle and syringe programmes has increased from 4.5 million in 2007 to more than 6 million in 2017. An increase in the number of cannabis users in contact with low-threshold services has been noted in recent years.

In response to the high proportion of methamphetamine users among the population of problem drug users, many harm reduction programmes distribute gelatine capsules as an oral alternative to the injection of methamphetamine.

Although there is no national hepatitis strategy in place, treatment for hepatitis C is available to people who inject drugs in public health facilities across Czechia, as well as in prisons.

Availablity of selected harm reduction responses in Europe
Country Needle and syringe programmes Take-home naloxone programmes Drug consumption rooms Heroin-assisted treatment
Austria Yes No No No
Belgium Yes No Yes No
Bulgaria Yes No No No
Croatia Yes No No No
Cyprus Yes No No No
Czechia Yes No No No
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes Yes No No
Finland Yes No No No
France Yes Yes Yes No
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes
Greece Yes No No No
Hungary Yes No No No
Ireland Yes Yes No No
Italy Yes Yes No No
Latvia Yes No No No
Lithuania Yes Yes No No
Luxembourg Yes No Yes Yes
Malta Yes No No No
Netherlands Yes No Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes No
Poland Yes No No No
Portugal Yes No No No
Romania Yes No No No
Slovakia Yes No No No
Slovenia Yes No No No
Spain Yes Yes Yes No
Sweden Yes No No No
Turkey No No No No
United Kingdom Yes Yes No Yes

Czechia 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.