INCB Annual Report – Regional Highlights: Europe

Extract from the 2013 annual report from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) – Abuse of narcotic drugs stabilizing at historically high levels – emergence of new psychoactive drugs, mainly sold over the Internet – indoor cannabis cultivation increases – methamphetamine manufacture spreading – high prevalence of injecting drug use in a number of countries

Source : United Nations Information Service (UNIS) and INCB – Dianova International is an NGO accredited to the United Nations Office in Vienna

New psychoactive substances reported in Europe

Unprecedented numbers and varieties of new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been reported in Europe, and their abuse continues to grow. NPS are an emerging drug phenomenon in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, where they have recently begun to have an impact. There are indications of their limited manufacture in Europe.

Trafficking routes for heroin and cocaine

While the Balkan route remains the most commonly used route for drug trafficking in the subregion of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the amount of heroin trafficked declined in the past year. Consequently, declines in heroin seizures have been reported by countries in the subregion. Cocaine trafficking routes are increasingly diversified, for instance with some trafficking of cocaine through the Baltic countries or along the Balkan route traditionally used for the trafficking of heroin from Afghanistan to Europe. An increase in cocaine trafficking has been reported in particular through ports of the Black Sea, together with the increasing influence of foreign criminal organizations in the region.

Marijuana cultivation – Illicit indoor marijuana cultivation continues to increase in the subregion of Western and Central Europe. Cannabis resin seizures have decreased in the subregion, while seizures of cannabis herb have increased. Marijuana is grown throughout Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, with large-scale cultivation detected in a number of countries, particularly Albania.

Abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances stabilizing at historically high levels

The abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances appears to be stabilizing at historically high levels in Western and Central Europe; however, the emerging abuse of prescription opioids is of concern in Western and Central Europe, with seizures reaching record levels in a few countries of the subregion and with treatment demand for abuse of opioids other than heroin increasing. Opioid-related deaths have decreased overall in Western and Central Europe, but the proportion of deaths attributable to fentanyl and methadone has increased in some countries.

Methamphetamine manufacture spreading to new locations

The use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) remains stable in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, with a small increase reported in few countries. Illicit methamphetamine manufacture appears to be spreading to new locations in Europe. New laboratories for its manufacture have been uncovered in Bulgaria, Romania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Seizures of MDMA (commonly known as “ecstasy”) have increased in Western and Central Europe, indicating a possible resurgence of the substance.

Injecting drug use at high levels in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe

High prevalence of injecting drug use is reported in Eastern and South-Eastern European countries. About 30 per cent of the global population of injecting drug users infected with HIV/AIDS live in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. At about 22 per cent, Ukraine has the largest reported HIV/AIDS-infected population among injecting drug users