EMCDDA trendspotter briefing: Impact of COVID-19 on drug use and drug services in Western Balkans


The Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) registered the main waves of COVID-19 infections later than most of the EU countries, but containment strategies were implemented at the same time and with equal force as in the rest of Europe. This report provides the main results of studies conducted using the trendspotter methodology to explore the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on drug services and people who use drugs in the Western Balkan region.

*Kosovo: this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Trendspotter methodology
  • National responses over time
  • Factors affecting levels and patterns of drug use
  • New substances and patterns of use
  • Risky behaviours, harms and needs
  • Availability of drug services
  • Help seeking and treatment demand
  • Challenges and adaptations of drug services
  • Guidelines and international cooperation
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Resources
  • Aknowldgements