Latvia Country Drug Report 2019

Drug use and responses in prison

Healthcare activities in prisons are provided through mutual cooperation between the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health. The medical department of the prison or the Latvian Prison Hospital provides the health services. Drug treatment interventions in prisons include social rehabilitation, self-help groups and opioid substitution treatment. Prevention and treatment of infectious diseases are also available. Antiretroviral treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is available for prisoners who started it prior to imprisonment. A number of social reintegration programmes were implemented in various prisons in 2017. Since 2012, methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) has been available to prisoners who started it prior to imprisonment. In 2017, 27 inmates received MMT while in prison.

The most recent study on drug use among people in prison is from 2014. This study indicated that around 69 % of prisoners had used drugs at some point in their life, while 49 % had done so in the past year and 40 % had done so in the past month. Drug use was found to be more common among female than male prisoners. Cannabis was the most common substance for lifetime use, followed by amphetamines, MDMA/ecstasy, heroin and cocaine. Around one quarter of prisoners stated that they had used new psychoactive substances (NPS), especially synthetic cannabinoids. One third of prisoners had used illicit substances while in prison; cannabis was the most commonly reported drug, followed by analgesics and sedatives, amphetamines and NPS. A small proportion of prisoners reported initiation of drug use in prison.

Available data suggest that around 17 % of prisoners are infected with hepatitis C virus, while around 1 in 10 are HIV positive, almost of whom half have been diagnosed with AIDS.

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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.