Prague is the region with the highest number of problem drug users in the country, with around 16,200 estimated to be in the city. The nationwide estimate is 46,800. The trend of aging drug addicts persists, with the average age of clients in contact centres being around 35 to 36 years old.
The number of drug users in the country has increased, but the number of Roma clients has decreased. The most common legal drugs are alcohol and nicotine. As for illegal substances, the most common are marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamine. Compared to other regions in the country, opiates are abused mostly in Prague. These results were shared in the Annual Report on Drug Policy for 2017, which was discussed today by the Prague city council.
The situation is different in different parts of the city. The drug scene is most apparent in the city centre and areas around metro stations where there is usually a higher supply and demand for illicit drugs and there are frequent problems with their use in public. There is also a higher number of drug-related crime cases in Prague, especially in the form of minor crimes against property.
In urban areas in the wider inner part of the city, the drug problem is different. In Prague 3, the drug scene is fragmented; in Prague 9, the outreach programme focuses on the hidden drug scene, and in Prague 10 and 14, there is not a large movement of addicts. In the outskirts of Prague, the problem of illegal drug use is not really noticeable. Addicts usually meet in hidden places and look for services anonymously in the city centre.
Heroin and Cough Medicine
In 2017, an increased production of heroin was recorded in Prague 8. There have also been reports of abuse of Stopex cough medicine, the dextromethorphan active substance being among the opioid family. Due to abuse of the drug by teenagers, adolescents, and psychiatric patients, Stopex was reassigned as a prescription drug last year.
Last year, police in the capital dealt with 1288 drug-related crimes. In previous years, however, the number of cases was higher. In 2016, for example, the number was 1656. Nine people died of deliberate or accidental overdose in Prague last year. Under the influence of drugs, 15 people died in accidents or suicides.
There is also the problem of drug addicts with infectious diseases. In Prague last year, doctors reported 133 cases of type-C jaundice, 50 of which were diagnosed as a result of injecting drugs. Drug users also have the risk of transmitting the HIV infection. Last year, 254 new cases were detected. Another problem is the deteriorating health of drug users, for whom medical care is not easily accessible. Dental care with financial assistance, for example, is completely inaccessible.
According to reports from urban areas, the number of secondary school students who use or experiment with marijuana is increasing in Prague. According to research among pupils of primary and secondary schools, most children have had experience with alcohol, some have had experience with cigarettes, and among the less common were those who smoked marijuana. The number of alcohol and cigarette users gradually increased with age, and there was a surge in marijuana use as children transition from primary to secondary school.
Author: Holly Webb