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Latvia country overview — a summary of the national drug situation



Latvia country overview
A summary of the national drug situation

Map of Latvia

Our partner in Latvia

Since April 2012, the national focal point in Latvia is located in a new institution – Disease Prevention and Control Centre of Latvia.

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

Disease Prevention and Control Centre of Latvia

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

Head of focal point: Ms Ieva Pugule

Our partner in Latvia

Disease Prevention and Control Centre of Latvia

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

Head of focal point: Ms Ieva Pugule

Since April 2012, the national focal point in Latvia is located in a new institution – Disease Prevention and Control Centre of Latvia.

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

E-mail addresses have been inserted in a way discouraging spam. Please replace [a] by @ before actually using any of the e-mail addresses.

Drug use among the general population and young people

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 as well as comparability of results between the three surveys over time. In 2011 lifetime use of cannabis was reported by 12.5 % of respondents (12.1 % in 2007 and 10.6 % in 2003). 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; 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 the most 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 and 2010 among 15- to 16-year-old students corroborates the results of the ESPAD surveys, indicating an increase in cannabis use among school-age adolescents. These studies found that the lifetime prevalence rate for cannabis use increased from 12 % in 2002 to 25 % in 2010.

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

High-risk drug use

Up to 2012 the EMCDDA defined problem drug use as injecting drug use (IDU) 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 2013 based on a treatment multiplier method (using a multiplier from a longitudinal cohort study of drug users that was initiated in 2006), while frequent cannabis use was estimated based on the data from the 2011 General Population Survey.

In 2013 there were an estimated 8 448 high-risk opioid users, or 6.2 per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64. With regard to amphetamines, there were an estimated 3 442 users, which translates to 2.53 cases per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64.

Repeated estimates suggest a relatively stable state in recent years.

In 2011 it was estimated by means of a general population survey that about 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

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Latvia hosts a treatment recording system, Patient Register Data (PREDA), which collects data about drug use. The register is directly linked to the General Mortality Register. In 2013 treatment demand data were gathered from 42 outpatient and eight inpatient centres across Latvia. No treatment demand indicator (TDI) data were collected from prisons, general practitioners or low-threshold services for the reporting period.

In 2013, a total of 1 543 clients were admitted to drug treatment, of whom 555 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. Opioids were reported as the primary drug by 52 % (783) of all treatment clients, of which 479 reported heroin as their primary opioid, 237 reported misuse of substitution-based medication, while only 73 reported other opioids, such as ‘hanka’, a home-based opioid prepared from poppy seeds. Cannabis was reported by 27 % as a primary drug and stimulants by 16 % of all treatment clients. Among new treatment clients, 272 clients reported cannabis (51 %), followed by stimulants (116 clients or 22 %) and opioids (104 clients or 20 %) as their primary drug. For the first time in 2013, cannabis was the most frequently reported primary drug among new treatment clients. Furthermore, in 2013 a significant number of synthetic cannabinoids, in most cases unspecified synthetic cannabinoids, were reported among primary cannabis users.

In 2013, some 64 % of all and 72 % of new treatment clients whose primary drug was an injectable illicit substance, injected it.

The mean age of all treatment clients in 2013 was 29 years, while new treatment clients tended to be younger – on average 25 years old. In terms of gender distribution, 78 % of all and 77 % of new treatment clients were male.

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

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 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases. 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 2013 there were 340 newly reported HIV positive cases in Latvia (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 2013 some 77 cases were transmitted through injecting drug use (22.6 % of all new cases), compared to 94 cases in 2012; 90 in 2011; 86 in 2010; and 78 in 2009. The largest proportion of HIV cases registered in 2013 had been infected through heterosexual contact (36.8 %), 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 2013 was about 9.4 %, while in 2012 the HIV prevalence among clients tested in the same settings was 20.3 %.

The most recent data from a cohort study are available from 2012 and 2013, and indicate HIV prevalence among the cohort of PWID at 24.5 % and 25.7 % 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 2013 a total of 70.1 % 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 among drug users

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control maintains a General Mortality Register (GMR), 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 GMR, in 2013 there were 11 drug-induced deaths. The mean age of the deceased was 31 years and all but one of them were male. Opiates were a main substance involved in three cases, while methamphetamine was recorded in one death.

The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 8.1 deaths per million in 2013, lower than the European average of 17.2 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

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 treatment is mainly delivered by institutions that operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and is 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. In 2013 state-funded outpatient services were provided by 69 addiction specialists in 44 treatment institution. Outpatient addiction treatment services were also provided by addiction specialists working in private organisations. Inpatient treatment was provided in specialised psychiatric hospitals and in regional and local multi-profile hospitals, which are either publicly or privately funded. In recent years the number of inpatient service providers has decreased, and in total nine treatment institutions provide beds for the inpatient treatment of drug users. If treatment is provided by private institutions or practices, a client must fully cover all the costs of the service. The 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 threefold increase in the number of OST clients between 2006 and 2012; however, the OST coverage rate still remains the lowest of all European Union (EU) Member States. On 31 December 2013 the total number of clients in substitution treatment was 424, of whom 328 were on methadone and 96 on buprenorphine.

See the Treatment profile for Latvia for additional information.  

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 2013 a network of 19 LTCs was operational, three located in the capital city. Mobile needle and syringe programmes, provided by van, are offered at three 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 exchange, outreach, voluntary human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counselling and testing, hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing, disinfectants, condoms, group and individual risk reduction information, education, etc.

In 2013, approximately 341 000 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 people who inject drugs. A joint mission to Latvia carried out by EMCDDA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in September 2014 focused on harm reduction for people who inject drugs (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, hepatitis B virus (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

Latvia is mainly used as a transit country for transporting drugs and precursors to the Russian Federation, Scandinavian countries and other EU countries. 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 the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and Spain, 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 Estonia, 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. New psychotropic substances 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. Drug production activities are limited to cannabis cultivation.

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 the largest proportion of all seizures involved new psychoactive substances (819 seizures), primarily cannabinoids and cathinones. Methamphetamine remains the most frequently seized classic illicit drug in Latvia, and the number of seizures has increased every year since 2004. In 2013 methamphetamine was involved in 667 seizures. A large proportion of these seizures were smaller than 1 g, while seven involved more than 1 kg of substance. The total amount seized in 2013 was twice that reported in 2012 (44.33 kg and 20.47 kg respectively). In contrast to methamphetamine, amphetamine has not been popular in the local market. Although relatively large amounts of amphetamine, presumably produced in a neighbouring country, were seized in 2012, the amount seized in 2013 fell again. Both methamphetamine and amphetamine were involved in 11 seizures. In 2013 herbal cannabis was involved in 412 seizures. While the number of seizures remained fairly stable when compared to previous years, the amount seized had fallen to 29.19 kg, compared to 73.85 kg seized in 2012 and 34.28 kg in 2011. The number of heroin seizures in 2013 was half that of 2012 (288 and 427 seizures respectively), and in total 0.72 kg was seized, less than was reported in 2012. 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. The emerging market of new substances might be responsible for the declining proportion of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy in the market (18 seizures in 2013 and 24 seizures in 2012; 60 tablets seized in 2013 and 847 tablets seized in 2012).

According to the Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior, 6 554 drug-law offences were reported in 2013. 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

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, the 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 new psychoactive substance 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.

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

National drug strategy

Latvia’s State Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction 2005–08 was evaluated in 2009. In 2010 the National Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction for 2011–17 was completed, and 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, and the Latvian Strategic Development Plan 2010–13. The new programme 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 built around four pillars: (i) prevention; (ii) healthcare; (iii) reducing availability; and (iv) policy coordination and information analysis. It establishes four main actions, namely: prevention, treatment, drug supply reduction, and policy coordination and analysis of information.


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 non-government organisations 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 in the Reitox network, coordinates day-to-day monitoring work and the collection and dissemination of information on illicit and licit drugs.

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
COFOG classification (a) Expenditure (thousand EUR) % of total(b)
(a) According to the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) Eurostat data sources: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/ (general) and http://unstats.un.org/unsd/cr/registry/regcst.asp?Cl=4
(b) EMCDDA estimations.
Direct costs (labelled and unlabelled)    

Public order and safety

 793 35.50
Social protection 719 32.20
Health  655 29.07
General public services 72 3.20
Education 0.6 0.03
2 234 100.0
% of GDP
0.01 %     
  • (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, March 2010, 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

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, and 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 Latvian 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 mentioned in the 2014 Latvian National report mainly focused on aspects related to the prevalence of drug use, but studies on the consequences of drug use and on responses to the drug situation were also mentioned.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information. 

Key national figures and statistics

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

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, 2012.

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
506 824 509 ep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014 11.3 %
11.3 % bep
25–49 34.4 %  34.7 % bep
50–64 20.6 %  19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2013 64 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2012 14.0 % p 29.5 % p Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2014 10.8 % 10.2 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2014 19.6 % 22.2 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2013 257.2  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2013
At risk of poverty rate 5  2013 19.4 %  16.6 %  SILC

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max. Average Rank Reporting Countries
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2013   6.2 0.2 10.7   19 21
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   52.1% 6% 93%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   19.7% 2% 81%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2013 1 14.0% 6% 42%   8 24
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2012 1 ; 2 EUR 71 EUR 25 EUR 158   18 22
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.3% 0% 4% 2%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.2% 0% 2% 1% 3 26
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.3% 0% 39%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.8% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2013   30.0% 20% 75%   4 27
Price per gram (EUR) 2013 2 EUR 78 EUR 47 EUR 103   18 24
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.6% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.3% 0% 1% 1% 7 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   15.1% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   20.8% 0% 22%      
Purity (%) 2013   14.0% 5% 71%   13 25
Price per gram (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 8 EUR 63   11 21
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   0.8% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   0.4% 0% 2% 1% 9 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.2% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.4% 0% 4%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2013   98 mg 26 mg 144 mg   17 23
Price per tablet (EUR) 2013 3 EUR 6 - EUR 9 EUR 3 EUR 24      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   24.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2011   7.3% 0% 22% 12%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2011   4.0% 0% 11% 6% 13 27
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   27.3% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   51.4% 5% 80%      
Potency — herbal (%) :   : 2% 13%      
Potency — resin (%) :   : 3% 22%      
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 4 EUR 25   16 19
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2013   EUR 14 EUR 3 EUR 21   17 21
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2011   9.37 2.0 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) 2012   9.2 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (rate/million) 2013   38.0 0.0 54.5      
HIV prevalence (%) 2013   9.4% 0% 49%      
HCV prevalence (%) 2013   70.1% 14% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2013   5.4 1.5 84.1      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2013   341 421 124 406 9 457 256      
Clients in substitution treatment 2013   328 180 172 513      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2013   1 543 289 101 753      
New clients 2013   555 19 35 229      
All clients with known primary drug 2013   1 504 287 99 186      
New clients with known primary drug 2013   529 19 34 524      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2013   6 554 429 426 707      
Offences for use/possession 2013   5 621 58 397 713      


See the explanatory notes for further information on the methods and definitions.

Only the most recent data are available for each key statistic. Data before 2006 were excluded.

1 - Data is for heroin undistinguished and not heroin brown.

2 - Value is the mode and not the mean.

3 - Data presented are the minimum and maximum value recorded.

Additional sources of national information

In addition to the information provided above, you might find the following resources useful sources of national data.


Page last updated: Tuesday, 07 July 2015