Hungary Country Drug Report 2019

Drug use and responses in prison

The National Anti-Drug Strategy 2013-20 includes objectives on drug prevention and treatment in prison. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for healthcare in prisons in Hungary, and treatment and care are organised on the basis of a medical model. In addition, Hungarian drug law offenders may undergo treatment as an alternative to criminal proceedings. The three-level intervention comprises preventative consultations, drug treatment and treatment for other conditions related to drug use. The treatment is provided by the prison system health services and external treatment providers, mainly outpatient services. Furthermore, several non-governmental organisations offer prevention programmes in prisons. Available treatment modalities include psychosocial intervention, counselling and pharmacologically assisted treatment. Opioid substitution treatment (OST) is available, but its provision remains rare.

As part of the development of a risk assessment system implemented in Hungarian detention facilities, drug use data were collected on a sample of prisoners in 2015. The highest levels of lifetime prevalence were reported for cannabis, followed by stimulants and, to a lesser extent, misused medicines, new psychoactive substances (NPS), hallucinogens and opioids. According to a survey conducted in 2016 in juvenile detention centres (for those < 20 years old), the large majority of inmates in these centres have used drugs or NPS at least once in their lives.

The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections is higher among prisoners than among the general population. Research carried out in detention facilities in 2009 suggests that the majority of prisoners who tested positive for HCV were probably infected by earlier injecting drug use. The latest available data, from 2009, place the prevalence of HCV infection among prisoners at 5 %, but higher among those who had injected drugs (23 %). Infectious disease testing and counselling are available in prison. Prisoners testing positive for HIV, HBV or HCV and meeting the therapeutic criteria receive appropriate treatment.

In 2017, reintegration programmes or individual support aimed at the social reintegration of prisoners who use drugs upon release were available in about one third of prisons, and probation officers also assist with reintegration. Reintegration programmes cover the areas of healthcare, work and vocational training, access to social support and drug services, follow-up care and legal aid, and preparation for returning to the family. Interventions or services specifically aimed at harm reduction are not available in Hungarian prisons. In the 2018 survey on Hungarian prisons, no institution reported providing any programmes aimed at preventing overdose after release. However, this issue is addressed through individual counselling at some institutions.


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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.