Impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on drug markets, substance use patterns, and delivery of harm reduction and treatment services in Ukraine


This mixed-methods study was conducted to monitor the trends in the drug scene, substance use practices, and availability of prevention and treatment services for people who use drugs in Ukraine in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results of the study indicate that the COVID-19 epidemic and lockdown had a substantial effect on the drug scene in Kyiv. After public transportation re-opened, drug availability and substance use patterns gradually returned to the pre-COVID levels. The shift from illicit to medical methadone was a notable exception, creating significant implications for public health programming. Harm reduction and OST programs managed to adapt to the changes and sustain their coverage. Should the lockdown be introduced again, the lessons learned in this phase of the pandemic should be used to ensure uninterrupted service provision for people who use drugs.