Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug use in the Republic of North Macedonia
COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health crisis of our time. There are many people fighting the COVID-19 with all their might, but people which use drugs faced many challenges during isolations and lock-downs. The aim of this paper is to present the measurement of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of illicit products (cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, methamphetamines, heroin and new psychoactive substances), from the perspective of users. It was used online survey from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, for drug users aged 18 years or older, in the 12 months prior to the survey, between March and May 2021, in about 30 European countries. Republic of North Macedonia was participating for the first time.
The most used drug due to restrictions was herbal cannabis. Same number of participants answered that they used same or more herbal cannabis-34%. Ecstasy-34%, methamphetamine-50%, amphetamine-31% and cocaine powder-31% were used less due to restrictions. Majority of the crack cocaine and cannabis resin users reported no change in use due to the pandemic. The most commonly reported setting for drug use in the last 12 months was at home, mentioned by around three quarters-77% of the respondents. At the time when the research has been conducted, our country was facing the big wave of the Covid-19 crisis, with implemented restrictions and lockdowns. Disco bars, coffee bars, restaurants were fully closed or with limited working hours. That fact can explain the decreased number of the use of ecstasy and cocaine powder on one hand, and on other hand, the increased use of herbal cannabis. Home use was dominant because of the restrictions related to the pandemic. From the perspective of users, COVID-19 had a huge impact on the use of drugs, with both, increasing or decreasing in their use.