To improve understanding of the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug market in the Western Balkans, the European Drugs Agency (EMCDDA) published ad hoc publication Illicit drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans: Impact of COVID-19.
This report provides the main results of studies conducted using the trendspotter methodology to explore the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans.
Reported here are the findings of a rapid multidisciplinary expert opinion study to review the possible impact of COVID-19 on the operation of the drug market. The current situation is extremely dynamic.
The findings of the study should be interpreted with caution as they are based substantially on expert opinions gathered from law enforcement sources between September and October 2020, when the research was conducted. In general, very limited statistical or research data is available in the Western Balkan region on drug markets during this period. Therefore, the conclusions are necessarily preliminary and will require review as more data sources become available.
To read the report, please follow this link>>>.
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.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published Trendspotter briefing: Impact of COVID-19 on drug use and drug services in Western Balkans. 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.
DPNSEE and our member organisations contributed to the report with information and case studies from the ground.
The main findings are listed below.
- Use of alcohol, benzodiazepines, and cocaine was reported to have increased in some subpopulations of people who use drugs. Use of benzodiazepines in combination with opioids was among the common risk behaviours observed during the first weeks of lockdown.
- A number of harms were observed among marginalised and injecting drug users, who in some cases lacked resources to satisfy basic needs. Mental health problems were reported among both recreational and problem drug users.
- The provision of drug treatment was reduced during the first weeks of the pandemic, affecting mainly new admissions and services provided face to face.
- The number of people entering treatment declined between March and May 2020 in almost all countries in the Western Balkan region.
- Opioid substitution treatment (OST) centres and harm reduction services mainly remained operational, although under a restricted regime.
- The main adaptations to the new situation included use of telemedicine and a relaxation of OST distribution schemes.
- Personal protection measures became standard in all treatment and harm reduction facilities, and protective equipment was distributed to clients whenever possible.
The crisis highlighted the fragile position of some service providers and the reliance of harm reduction services on the support of international donors.
To read the full report, follow this link>>>.