Focus on the EU borders

High-risk drug use and health threats in Eastern Europe
In programme
Wednesday, 23 October, 2019 - 10:50 to 12:20
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The EMCDDA has launched a new technical cooperation project called ‘EU4Monitoring Drugs’ (EU4MD). This 3-year project is funded by the European Union for countries in the European Neighbourhood Policy area (ENP) and supports the improvement of national and regional capacity to identify and respond to drug-related security and health threats.

This session will pin-point main emerging drug trends in the East ENP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and their neighbours by looking at changes in drug use and markets, and reflecting on possible impact and links to social and political challenges in the region.

East ENP countries are located in a traditional trafficking corridor between Asia and Europe, mostly for heroin; however this channel is increasingly referred also to smuggling of large quantities of cocaine and other illicit drugs and good. Availability and use of heroin, opioids and amphetamines, including home-made fixtures of these substances, have been extensively studies in the region due to their high risk drug use potential and related health consequences. Some sources however point towards a shift in the markets where stimulants (e.g. methamphetamine, MDMA) and new psychoactive substances are becoming increasingly available and may be causing health problems. Although HIV and HCV remain the main concern in terms of drug-use related consequences, ad-hoc data indicate also possible recent rise in drug related deaths (e.g Ukraine). Nevertheless this information should be treated with caution due to limited capacities for systematic data collection in the field, as well lack of common protocols. While individually countries have achieved some progress in containing HIV infection among people who inject drugs, in general the development of the epidemic in the region remains under the scrutiny and is closely monitored, mainly due to growing concerns about the situation in the neighbouring Russia and limited response capacities in countries. HCV among people who inject drugs also remains in the spotlight. In this context, several countries had pioneered approaches to increase PWID access to care and services.