Young Czechs remain at the top of the European ladder in the use of soft or party drugs, with marihuana being the most commonly used substance. However it is the illegal production of methamphetamine that remains the most pressing problem in fight against drug abuse, both for the Czech Republic and neighbour states.
Over a third of Czechs claim to have had some experience with illegal drugs – and in most cases they are referring to marihuana. According to the latest survey thirty-seven percent of Czechs in the 15 to 16 age bracket said they had smoked ‘pot,’ at least once, which is the highest figure in that age group across Europe. In the 15 to 34 age group, close to 20 percent of Czechs said they had smoked marihuana at least once in the past 12 months.
However it is the illegal production of methamphetamine –made in home labs around the country- that is the most serious problem in the fight against drug abuse. According to a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction nine out of ten home labs for the illegal production of methamphetamine uncovered in the EU in 2017 were located on Czech territory.
Most of them are small home labs which sell the drug in this country. However in recent years there has been a rise in organized crime rings that smuggle the drug to neighbour states and other countries in Europe. Bavaria and Saxony appear to have been the hardest hit in this respect, with the local authorities reporting a rise in young methamphetamine users as a result.
The German and Czech police are cooperating in the border areas to crack-down on these gangs, but the smuggling of pervitin to users across the border remains a problem. According to Viktor Mravčík, head of the Czech National Centre for Drug Monitoring, pervitin is the country’s number one drug abuse problem.
“The home-made drug pervitin presents an exceptionally big problem on the home scene at the present time. The drug is predominantly injected and we have many more methamphetamine users than users of various opioids. It is true that pervitin is smuggled abroad, mainly to Germany, but it would be wrong to say that we are a pervitin lab for Europe –far from it.”
It is estimated that there are some 34,000 primary methamphetamine users and approximately 12,000 primary users of heroin or other opioids in the Czech Republic.
One positive aspect is that the country has the lowest incidence of infections among drug users in the EU. This fact, confirmed by European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, is the result of an effective network of low-threshold centres and the free hand-outs of needles, that help prevent the spread of hepatitis and HIV. However experts warn that progress in this filed could be undermined by the fact that the Health Ministry slashed this year’s drug prevention budget to 30.7 million crowns, down from 42.7 million the previous year.
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