Latvia country overview

Latvia country overview

Map of Latvia

About NFP: 

The national focal point is located in Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia.

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia is a newly established public institution responsible for data collection and monitoring on different public health issues.

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Last updated: Thursday, May 19, 2016

Drug use among the general population and young people

Content for prevalence: 

National general population surveys on drug use in Latvia have been conducted every four years since 2003, and the most recent data are available for 2011. All three surveys used the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) recommended data collection methods and a target population of people aged 15–64, with an average sample of 4 500 respondents. This allows comparison with similar surveys in other countries and comparability of results between the three surveys over time. In 2011 a total of 12.5 % of respondents (12.1 % in 2007 and 10.6 % in 2003) reported ever having used cannabis during their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence rate was 2.7 % for ecstasy (4.7 % in 2007 and 2.4 % in 2003), 2.2 % for amphetamines (3.3 % in 2007 and 2.6 % in 2003) and 1.5 % for cocaine (2.3 % in 2007 and 1.2 % in 2003). Although there was a small increase in the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in 2011, the use of other illicit substances has reduced and returned to the levels of 2003. The data indicate a slight decline in recent use of cannabis. Thus, last year prevalence of cannabis use was reported by 4.0 % of the sample and last month prevalence by 1.5 %, compared to 4.9 % and 1.8 % respectively in the 2007 study.

Use of traditional illicit substances and new psychoactive substances (NPS) was higher in younger age groups than among those aged 35 and older. In 2011 some 2.5 % of respondents indicated that they had tried NPS, such as ‘Spice’ or similar mixtures, in the past, while the prevalence was 2.7 % among 15- to 34-year-olds and 6.1 % among 15- to 24-year-olds. Drug use remains more prevalent in large cities, and particularly in the capital, where every second male respondent reported having used drugs at least once in their lifetime. Although drug use remains more prevalent among males than females, the most recent study indicates a narrowing in the gender gap, largely due to a reduction in drug use prevalence among males since 2007, while prevalence rates have remained unchanged among females.

The data on substance use among 15- to 16-year-old schoolchildren are available from the regular European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), which has been carried out in Latvia since 1999. According to the data from these surveys, cannabis is the most popular illicit drug among students aged 15–16. Lifetime prevalence of cannabis was reported by 17 % of students in 1999; 16 % in 2003; 18 % in 2007; and 24 % in 2011. Although experimenting with cannabis in Latvia remains at an average level when compared to other European countries, the increase in lifetime prevalence rates reported between 2007 and 2011 is one of the highest among all ESPAD countries. Lifetime use of ecstasy, amphetamines, hallucinogens and cocaine was reported by 4 % of the sample. The reported lifetime prevalence levels for ecstasy and amphetamines were lower in 2011 than in 2007, while a higher proportion of respondents reported past use of cocaine in 2011 than those in 2007. Last year prevalence of cannabis use was 16 % in 2011 (11 % in 2007; 9 % in 2003; 11 % in 1999), and last month prevalence of cannabis use was 6 % (4 % in 2007 and 2003; 5 % in 1999). In terms of gender distribution, the reported lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in 2011 was 29 % among males and 19 % among females.

The data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) studies conducted in 2002, 2010 and 2014 among 15- to 16-year-old students corroborates the results of the ESPAD surveys, indicating an increase in cannabis use among school-age adolescents between 2002 and 2010 (12 % in 2002 to 25 % in 2010). The reported lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in 2013/14 was 23 % among males and 19 % among females.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the 'Statistical bulletin' for more information  


Content for prevention: 

Prevention of dependence and drug use is one of the four pillars of the National Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction for 2011–17 adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers for the Republic of Latvia, and is also an integral part of the Public Health Guidelines for 2014–20. In general, drug prevention activities are integrated into broader health promotion activities and are implemented in a decentralised manner. Districts and municipalities play a central role in planning and funding prevention activities implemented outside the school curricula. Evaluation of the effectiveness of prevention programmes is rare.

Following the financial downturn in 2009 national structural reforms were instigated that further influenced the extent and quality of existing prevention measures. Several agencies working in the field of health prevention and promotion were closed and funding for programmes implemented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) was limited. However, health promotion, including the prevention of addictive behaviours, has recently become one of the key topics of several national long-term planning documents, and a boost in universal prevention activities in communities has been noted.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Science are responsible for introducing drug prevention into school programmes. Health classes that also address substance use are integrated into the basic national curriculum within the subjects of ‘social sciences’ for grades 1–9 and ‘health education’ for secondary schools. The social sciences classes aim to strengthen pupils’ decision-making capabilities and their ability to overcome peer pressure. The health education classes are optional for all secondary schools and are included in a list of nine subjects, from which educational institutions choose to implement three. Many schools involve medical doctors or other health promotion staff, police officers and NGOs in their informational and educational activities, primarily in relation to significant events such as World AIDS Day, to organise competitions, exhibitions, etc. Peer education and life skills based methodologies are mainly used in extracurricular activities. In 2014, for example, special prevention lessons were organised on new psychoactive substances for primary school students.

At the community level, universal prevention activities primarily focus on the provision of alternative leisure activities, involving the family, training professionals and organising security services and video surveillance in schools.

Selective prevention mainly targets pupils who miss school or have learning problems, adolescents exhibiting high-risk behaviour, those from families where parents use addictive substances, or juvenile offenders. These activities are primarily implemented by school- or community-based social workers. Indicated prevention is non-existent, while ‘early intervention programmes’ are regarded as treatment.

Although there are no specific national prevention guidelines on drugs, in 2011 Guidelines for Local Governments in Promoting Health were developed by the Ministry of Health. These also cover measures relevant to the promotion of mental health and dependency reduction. Outcome evaluations of prevention activities remain rare.

See the Prevention profile for Latvia for more information.  

Problem drug use

Content for problem drug use: 

Up to 2012 the EMCDDA defined problem drug use as injecting drug use or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. This new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

The number of high-risk users of opioids and amphetamines was estimated in 2014 based on a treatment multiplier method (using a multiplier from a longitudinal cohort study of drug users that was initiated in 2006 and data obtained from clients in treatment from three treatment data sources), while frequent cannabis use was estimated based on the data from the 2011 general population survey.

In 2014 there were an estimated 6 151 high-risk opioid users (95 % confidence interval (CI): 4 427–9 854), or 4.68 (95 % CI: 3.37–7.50) per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64. With regard to amphetamines, there were an estimated 2 177 users (95 % CI: 1 695–2 832), which translates to 1.66 (95 % CI: 1.29–2.15) cases per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64.

In 2011 a general population survey estimated that 0.2 % of 15- to 64-year-olds in Latvia had used cannabis daily or almost daily within the last 30 days.

Look for High-risk drug use in the Statistical bulletin for more information.

Treatment demand

Content for treatment demand: 

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control hosts a treatment recording system, Patient Register Data (PREDA), which collects data about drug use, is based on an online data collection system, and is in line with the treatment demand indicator (TDI) protocol v.3.0. The register is directly linked to the general mortality register. In 2014 treatment demand data were gathered from 42 outpatient and eight inpatient centres across Latvia. No TDI data were collected from prisons, general practitioners or low-threshold services for the reporting period. It is estimated that about 68 % of clients are covered by PREDA.

In 2014 a total of 830 clients were admitted to drug treatment, of whom 417 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. Opioids were reported as the primary drug by 46 % (382) of all treatment clients, of which 320 reported heroin as their primary opioid. Cannabis was reported by 32 % as a primary drug and stimulants by 15 % of all treatment clients. Among new treatment clients, 210 clients reported cannabis (50 %), followed by opioids, mainly heroin (102 clients or 24 %) and stimulants (69 clients or 17 %) as their primary drug. The treatment information sources suggest that two-thirds of reported primary cannabis users in 2014 used synthetic cannabinoids, in most cases unspecified synthetic cannabinoids. In 2014 some 90 % of all and 86 % of new treatment clients whose primary drug was opioid, injected it.

The mean age of all treatment clients in 2014 was 28, while new treatment clients tended to be younger with an average age of 26. In terms of gender distribution, 80 % of all and 81 % of new treatment clients were male.

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-related infectious diseases

Content for drug-related infectious diseases: 

In Latvia, as in other Baltic countries, there is a high proportion of people who inject drugs (PWID) among all reported cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There was an increase in the number of HIV cases diagnosed annually in Latvia in the late 1990s, and this reached a peak in 2001. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, in 2014 there were 347 newly reported HIV positive cases in Latvia (340 in 2013; 339 in 2012; 299 in 2011; 274 in 2010; 275 in 2009). Since 2001 the proportion of PWID among newly diagnosed HIV cases has decreased gradually, and in 2014 some 74 cases were transmitted through injecting drug use (21.3 % of all new cases), compared to 77 cases in 2013; 94 in 2012; 90 in 2011; and 86 in 2010. The largest proportion of HIV cases registered in 2014 had been infected through heterosexual contact, while for less than a third of cases the mode of transmission remained unreported. Additional studies indicate that the heterosexual transmission of HIV in Latvia originates through sexual contact with PWID.

The overall prevalence of HIV among PWID tested in 19 needle and syringe programmes in 2014 was about 8.0 %, while in 2013 the HIV prevalence among clients tested in the same settings was 9.4 % and in 2012 it was 20.3 %. HIV prevalence was higher among those who stated opioids as their primary drug (9 % compared to 5 % for those who stated other drug).

The most recent data from a cohort study are available from 2012, 2013 and 2014, and indicate HIV prevalence among the cohort of PWID at 24.5 %, 25.7 % and 27.8 % respectively.

Monitoring of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections indicates that injecting drug use is a significant risk factor in the transmission of these viruses; however, the route of transmission is unspecified for a large proportion of diagnosed cases. The 2013  cohort study found HBV and HCV prevalence rates among PWID of 2.9 % and 83.7 % respectively. In 2014 a total of 63.7 % of harm reduction services clients tested positive for HCV and 2.1 % tested positive for HBV (HBsAg).

Although the rate of tuberculosis has decreased by half since 2000, it remains a significant public health issue in Latvia. In particular, the number of cases with dual HIV and tuberculosis infection is steadily increasing, and about a third of all these co-infections are diagnosed in injecting drug users.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-induced deaths and mortality

Content for drug-induced deaths: 

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control maintains a National Causes of Deaths Register (NCD), and it regularly exchanges data with the State Centre for Forensic Medical Examinations, which maintains a special register (SR) of deceased persons. The SR records the results of forensic tests and toxicological analyses. Data extraction and reporting is in line with the EMCDDA definitions and recommendations.

According to the NCD, in 2014 there were 15 drug-induced deaths. The mean age of the deceased was 36.3 years and all of them were male. Opiates were a main substance involved in ten cases, while methamphetamine was recorded in one death.

Comparison of the Latvian data on overdoses with data from other countries should be done with caution, and it should be noted that the number of case continues to be small and probably does not realistically reflects the existing situation in the country.

The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 10.6 deaths per million in 2014, lower than the European average of 19.2 deaths per million.

Mortality cohort studies indicate that the standardised mortality rate among opioid users is nine times higher compared with the general population of the same age. The estimated number of high-risk drug users and mortality rates observed in cohort studies strongly suggests that a significant number of drug-related deaths are unrecognised and underreported. This underestimation is thought to be due to a reduction in the number of autopsies that are performed, a lack of technical capacity and the misclassification of the cause of death.

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information.

Treatment responses

Content for treatment responses: 

The national coordination body for drug treatment in Latvia is the Riga Centre of Psychiatry and Addiction Disorders, which is responsible for the delivery, accreditation, monitoring and evaluation of drug treatments. Drug treatments are mainly delivered by institutions that operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and are funded by the state budget of the National Health Service. Long-term social rehabilitation is also provided through funds from the Ministry of Welfare. Drug treatment is also delivered by private, profit-making organisations, and is regulated by the Medical Treatment Law.

Drug treatment services are available in outpatient and inpatient clinics. Addiction treatment specialists are direct access specialists, which means that potential clients do not need to have referrals from family physicians in order to receive state-funded services from the addiction treatment specialists. Outpatient drug treatment services are provided by specialised public or private treatment centres, which employ addiction treatment specialists and usually address all forms of addiction. Although several low-threshold services provide some psychosocial interventions and counselling to drug users, they are not classed as drug treatment facilities in Latvia. Specialist inpatient treatment is provided by specialised psychiatric hospitals and in regional and local multi-profile hospitals, which are either publicly or privately funded. If treatment is provided by private institutions or practices, a client must fully cover all the costs of the service. Outpatient services provide mainly psychosocial intervention, cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interventions and long-term maintenance programmes, while inpatient facilities offer emergency care for overdose cases, detoxification and short-term psychosocial interventions. Two specialised psychiatric centres provide long-term medical rehabilitation based on the principle of the ‘therapeutic community’.

The Riga Centre of Psychiatry and Addiction Disorders has provided methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) since 1996, and opioid substitution treatment (OST) using buprenorphine since 2005. In recent years the availability of treatment has expanded beyond the capital city. Since 2010, in addition to the centre in Riga, nine OST offices operated by multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams provide MMT, while buprenorphine programmes are now available from eight providers. The treatment can also be prescribed at any inpatient clinic, provided that it has a Council of Physicians with at least two drug addiction specialists. In 2012 a new regulation came into force stipulating broader provision of OST via general physicians who have completed a special training programme. The regulation also stipulated continuity of OST in prison. Methadone is provided free of charge by the state, while buprenorphine is available at the patient’s expense. The geographical expansion of MMT and changes in the legal framework contributed to a manifold increase in the number of OST clients between 2006 and 2013; however, the OST coverage rate still remains the lowest of all European Union (EU) Member States. On 31 December 2014 the total number of clients in substitution treatment was 518, of whom 390 were on methadone and 128 on buprenorphine.

See the Treatment profile for Latvia for additional information.  

Harm reduction responses

Content for harm reduction responses: 

Two major harm reduction responses are carried out in Latvia — opioid substitution programmes (described in detail in the section ‘Treatment responses’) and a network of low-threshold centres (LTCs). The first needle exchange programme was opened in 1997, and in 1999 street outreach activities were introduced. In 2014 a network of 18 LTCs was operational, three located in the capital city. Mobile needle and syringe programmes, provided by van, are offered at two sites, and outreach workers provide syringes at eight sites. Since 2012 the LTCs have mainly been financed by the state and municipalities.

These centres provide a wide range of low-threshold services: needle and syringe exchange, outreach, disinfectants, condoms, group and individual risk reduction information, education, etc. Voluntary HIV counselling and testing and HCV testing, and testing for other infectious diseases, is usually considered as additional service and is provided through targeted specific project-based funding from various sources.

In 2014 approximately 410 000 syringes were distributed through the programme, an increase on previous years, although coverage of syringes is still considered to be insufficient by many experts, in particular because the overall rate of newly notified cases of HIV infections in the country was reported to have increased among PWID. A joint mission to Latvia carried out by the EMCDDA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in September 2014 focused on harm reduction for PWID, testing and vertical transmission of infections, and made several recommendations regarding improvement of service coverage:

  1. Increase the funding and human resources involved in the prevention of infections — especially among PWID — with several targets to be achieved as a minimum.
  2. Change the present HIV and hepatitis testing policies to optimise testing among high-risk groups, including prisoners, and making confirmatory testing free of charge. Ensure newly diagnosed patients receive better early linkage to care.
  3. Improve access to infectious disease treatment services for patients with HIV, HBV and HCV with the development of better-integrated services and a review of patient reimbursement for treatment. Treatment for HIV must urgently be initiated at or above CD4<350 at a minimum, with the intention of moving towards starting treatment at CD4 rates of 500; this will save costs in the long term as it will reduce complications.
  4. Increase the investment and resources for surveillance and risk group behavioural studies to improve the quality of epidemiological data for HBV, HCV and HIV. 

See the Harm reduction overview for Latvia for additional information.  

Drug markets and drug-law offences

Content for Drug markets and drug-law offences: 

Illicit substances are mainly imported into Latvia; however, concerns over the domestic cultivation of cannabis have recently increased. Nevertheless, the territory of Latvia is mainly used to transit and transport drugs and precursors to the Russian Federation, Scandinavian countries and other EU countries, with trafficking routes and patterns becoming more diverse and sophisticated. Data from law enforcement institutions identify a number of import routes for illicit drugs: methamphetamine is brought into Latvia from Belgium, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Poland, for domestic consumption and for further transit to the Russian Federation, Scandinavian countries and Estonia; herbal cannabis is imported from western European countries, and destined mainly for the Russian Federation, Scandinavian countries and Estonia; cannabis resin originating from Morocco passes through Latvia en route to the Russian Federation. Latvia is also used for cocaine transit from South America to Scandinavian countries and Russia via sea or air transport. Heroin enters Latvia mainly by air and land transport from countries in Central Asia, passing through the Russian Federation or other neighbouring countries in the east, and destined for the Scandinavian countries and EU Member States. NPS entering Latvia are mainly produced in Asian countries, and the most recent data indicate that they are further distributed to the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, Scandinavian and western European countries. In 2014 three NPS packaging sites were discovered in Latvia. One additional characteristic of the market is the involvement of Latvian citizens in illicit drug smuggling, mainly cocaine, as couriers.

Data on drug seizures, which combine data from all law enforcement agencies, are provided by the Forensic Service Department of the State Police. In 2013 and 2014 the largest proportion of all seizures involved NPS (819 and 889 seizures respectively), primarily cannabinoids. Methamphetamine remains the most frequently seized classic illicit drug in Latvia, and the number of seizures has increased every year since 2004; however, there are indications that amphetamine might have taken over part of this market in the last few years. In 2013 methamphetamine was involved in 432 seizures. The total amount seized in 2014 was five times less that reported in 2013 (6.97 kg and 44.33 kg respectively). In contrast, amphetamine is becoming more prevalent and was involved in 208 seizures in 2014 (between 21 to 89 seizures reported in the period 2007–13).  A large proportion of amphetamines seizures were smaller than 1 g, while only a few involved more than 1 kg of substance. In 2014 herbal cannabis was involved in 366 seizures and the amount seized had fallen to 26.81 kg, compared to 73.85 kg seized in 2012 and 34.28 kg in 2011. In 2014 a total of 29 cannabis cultivation sites were seized. In 2014 some 11.48 kg of cannabis plants were seized, which is significantly less than in 2013 when 344.4 kg of the substance was seized. The number of heroin seizures in 2014 continued decrease when compared to earlier years (229 seizures in 2014; 288 in 2013; 427 in 2012), and in total 0.77 kg was seized, about the same amount than was reported in 2013. However, concern has been raised over mixtures of carfentanil and heroin appearing in the market in 2014–15. The amount of cocaine seized hit a record high of 206 kg in 2010, but in the following years this reduced to 81 kg in 2011, 1 kg in 2012 and 0.58 kg in 2013. In 2014 cocaine was involved in 44 seizures and a total amount of 7.86 kg was seized in Latvia. The emerging market of new substances might be responsible for the declining proportion of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy in the market (15 seizures in 2014; 18 seizures in 2013; 24 seizures in 2012; 119 tablets and 0.343 g of substance seized in 2014; 60 tablets seized in 2013; 847 tablets seized in 2012).

According to the Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior, 6 244 drug-law offences were reported in 2014. Most of these were use-related offences. With regard to the substances involved, the registered offences were linked mainly to methamphetamine, cannabis and heroin.

Look for Drug-law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data. 

National drug laws

Content for National drug laws: 

Unauthorised use, acquisition and storage of small amounts of illicit drugs are administrative offences that may be punishable by a warning or a fine of up to EUR 280. Possession of larger amounts for personal use (precisely defined in the law ‘On the procedures for the coming into force and application of the criminal law’) can lead to a criminal penalty of up to three years in prison. Repeated unauthorised use, preparation, acquisition or possession of small amounts of illicit substances within 12 months of a previous offence is a criminal offence, and a person may be sentenced to imprisonment of up to two years.

Since 2013 criminal law has also stipulated punishment in the form of a short term of imprisonment of between 15 days and three months for offences involving narcotic and psychotropic substances.

The court is able to impose treatment with a suspended sentence, or to release an addict from criminal or administrative liability if he or she has agreed to undergo treatment, but no underlying control mechanism has been established.

Traffickers of any quantity may be sentenced to 2–8 years’ imprisonment, increasing to 3–10 years if the offender is part of a group, or 5–15 years if large amounts or an organised group are involved.

In order to address a need for more effective control of new psychoactive substances, the ‘Amendment of the Cabinet of Ministers regulation on narcotic substances, psychotropic substances and precursors to be controlled in Latvia’ came into force in 2013, which introduced the principle of a generic control system. The law ‘On procedures for the legal trade of narcotic and psychotropic substances and medicinal products’ was amended in November 2013 to allow the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to restrict possession or distribution of a NPS for a period up to 12 months, punishable by a fine. In April 2014 these supply-related offences became criminal, punishable by up to two years in prison, or five if causing substantial harm. In November 2014 personal possession of NPS became an administrative offence, punishable with a fine of up to EUR 280, with a criminal charge possible if repeated within one year.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information.  

National drug strategy

Content for National drug strategy: 

Latvia’s National Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction for 2011–17 was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 14 March 2011. It was developed in accordance with the Regulation for Development of Planning Documents and Impact Assessment, the Latvian Strategic Development Plan 2010–13 and also reflects the principles of EU drug policy. It sets out three main goals: (i) to reduce the tolerance of illicit drug use in society; (ii) to reduce the harm caused to society through illicit drug use by making effective healthcare services available for drug users; and (iii) to reduce the availability of illicit drugs. The strategy is accompanied by an action plan built around four pillars: (i) prevention of drug addiction and drug abuse (two policy impact indicators, four performance indicators, 10 actions); (ii) healthcare of addiction patients and drug users (two policy impact indicators, seven performance indicators, 15 actions); (iii) reduction of drug supply (two policy impact indicators, seven performance indicators, 12 actions); and (iv) cross-cutting direction on policy coordination, monitoring, data collection and information analyses (16 actions).

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Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

Content for Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs: 

The Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction Coordination Council is chaired by the prime minister and comprises seven ministers and several national experts. It is responsible for coordinating government agencies, municipalities and NGOs tasked with implementing the national drug strategy. In addition to supervising four ad hoc groups, which work on supply reduction, demand reduction, legal turnover and information analysis, the Council is tasked with developing drug programmes and their implementation and evaluation.

The Council Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of activities related to the Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction. Appointed by the Minister of Interior, the Head of the Council Secretariat functions as the National Drug Coordinator and is responsible for coordinating the work of the Council Secretariat and the Council’s working groups. The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which houses the national focal point of the Reitox network, coordinates day-to-day monitoring work and the collection and dissemination of information on illicit and licit drugs.

Public expenditure

Content for Public expenditure: 

Latvian drug policy documents do not have associated budgets and there is no review of executed expenditures. However, the evaluation of the national action plan (2005–08) provided the first overview of central government expenditures. This was later used in commissioned research (1).

In 2008 drug-related labelled public expenditure (2) was estimated to represent 0.01 % of Latvian gross domestic product (GDP). A total of 35.50 % of GDP was allocated for public order and safety activities, 32.20 % for social protection and 29.07 % for health initiatives (Table 1). The remaining expenditures contributed to general public services and education activities.

The available information does not allow the trends in drug-related public expenditures in Latvia to be reported.

Table 1: Drug-related public expenditure, 2008


Expenditure (thousand EUR)

% of total (a)

COFOG classification (b)



Direct costs (labelled and unlabelled)



Public order and safety



Social protection






General public services







2 234


% of GDP

0.01 %   


(a) EMCDDA estimations.

(b) According to the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) Eurostat data sources: (general) and

(1) A. Vanags and A. Zasova (2010), Budget and non-budget social costs of drug abuse in Latvia in 2008, Analytical report by BICEPS, Centre of Health Economics, Latvia.

(2) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.

Drug-related research

Content for Drug-related research: 

The state budget funds most drug-related research in Latvia, particularly as the main studies at the national level are included in the State Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction. The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, where the Latvian national focal point is located, funds studies on drug prevalence among the general population, drug prevalence among students and youth population and drug prevalence among targeted groups. The municipality of Riga is also a significant actor in funding, with the objective of improving prevention activities at city level. Social and youth research are the main types of research currently conducted by university departments, while basic and applied research are conducted by the Latvian Institute of Organic Chemistry. The national focal point, meanwhile, plays a significant role in monitoring and analysing the public health situation in the country, and in disseminating drug-related research findings. Recent drug-related studies have focused on aspects related to the prevalence of drug use, but studies on the consequences of drug use, determinants of drug use and on responses to the drug situation have also been mentioned.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information.  

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

Content for Data sheet: 

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max.      
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2014   4.68 0.2 10.7      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   46.2% 4% 90%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   24.7% 2% 89%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2014 1 15.0% 7% 52%      
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2013   EUR 121 EUR 23 EUR 140      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.3% 0% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.2% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.7% 0% 38%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   1.2% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2014   37.0% 20% 64%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2008   EUR 107 EUR 47 EUR 107      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.6% 0% 3%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.3% 0% 1%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   13.9% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   15.0% 0% 75%      
Purity (%) 2014   45.0% 1% 49%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 3 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.8% 0% 6%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.4% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.4% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.7% 0% 2%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2014   68 mg 27 mg 131 mg      
Price per tablet (EUR) 2009   EUR 6 EUR 4 EUR 16      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   24.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   7.3% 0% 24%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   4.0% 0% 11%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   32.6% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   50.8% 7% 77%      
Potency — herbal (%) :   : 3% 15%      
Potency — resin (%) :   : 3% 29%      
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 3 EUR 23      
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 3 EUR 22      
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2011   9.37 2.7 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) 2012   9.2 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (cases / million) 2014   37.0 0.0 50.9      
HIV prevalence (%) 2014   8.0-17.7 0% 31%      
HCV prevalence (%) 2013-14   63.7% 15% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2014   10.6 2.4 113.2      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2014   409 869 382 7 199 660      
Clients in substitution treatment 2014   518 178 161 388      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2014   830 271 100 456      
New clients 2014   417 28 35 007      
All clients with known primary drug 2014   826 271 97 068      
New clients with known primary drug 2014   413 28 34 088      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2014   6 244 537 282 177      
Offences for use/possession 2014   5 291 13 398 422      

Key national figures and statistics

Content for Key national figures and statistics: 

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

: Not available.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2014.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

  Year   EU (28 countries) Source
Population  2014 2 001 468 506 944 075 bep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014 11.3 % 11.3 % bep Eurostat
25–49 34.4 %  34.7 % bep
50–64 20.6 %  19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2014 64 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2013 14.4 % p : Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2015 9.9 % 9.4 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2015 16.3 % 20.3 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2014 240.3  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2014.1
At risk of poverty rate 5  2014 21.2 %  17.2 %  SILC

Contact information for our focal point

Address and contact: 

Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia

Duntes street 22
Rīga LV-1005
Tel. +371 67501590
Fax.: +371 67501591

Head of national focal point: Ms Ieva Pugule

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