Impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on drug markets and behavior of people who use drugs in Georgia


The aim of the study was to describe potential impact of coronavirus disease epidemic (COVID-19) on trends in illicit drug use, drug supply, risk behaviors and utilization of drug-related services among people who use drugs (PWUD) regularly in Georgia. The study employed mix-method approach and utilized quantitative and qualitative methodologies to collect and analyze data. Prospective cohort of 50 Georgians who use drugs regularly participated in online quantitative survey conducted repeatedly every other week in April – September, 2020. Cohort participants were also invited to take part in phone-based qualitative interviews at 3- (end of June) and 6-month (end of September) follow-up time points. In addition, 4 key informants (experts in illicit drugs field in Georgia) were interviewed repeatedly every month to collect data on their perceptions in relation to changes in illicit drug supply and drug users’ behaviors. Finally, a major online illicit drug market Matanga was monitored to examine trends in illicit drug sales on its Georgian segment.