Ministry of Health plans preventive measures to help reduce alcohol and narcotics abuse

To protect residents from addictive substances, it is necessary to adopt preventive measures for residents and focus groups, including persons using substances in a risky and damaging way, as well as people already addicted to different substances, as stated in the report prepared by the ministry.
Alcohol consumption per capita in Latvia is on a rise across all groups and remains above the average index in European and OECD member states. Risky use of alcohol is also widely spread among residents – especially among men. Alcohol consumption is also on arise among students and youngsters. Indexes in Latvia are above the average in Europe.
According to data from the World Health Organisation for the year 2018, the registered alcohol consumption per capita in Latvia was 11.1 l of absolute alcohol. The average index in Europe was 9.8 l.
According to estimates from the Disease Prevention and Control Centre (SPKC), the registered absolute alcohol consumption per 15-year-old and adult resident, tourists included, was 12.6 l in 2020.

General consumption, excluding tourist consumption of alcohol, was 12.1 l.

As for narcotics, Ministry of Health reports that cannabis is on a sharp rise among teenagers and adults in Latvia. Use of narcotics remains widely spread among youngsters. Latvia’s indexes in this regard are also higher than the average in Europe.
According to results of the study titled On the use of addictive substances among residents in the year 2020, 15% of Latvian residents have tried marijuana at least once in their life. This is a much higher index when compared to 2015, when it was 9.8%.
26% of 15-16 year old respondents said they have tried marijuana at least once, which is 8% more when compared to 2015.

8.4% of Latvian students admitted to trying other kinds of narcotic substances.

In Latvia there are still deaths caused by overdose of narcotics. On top of that, the number of users of syringe drugs remains high among residents. When reducing use of narcotics in society, the ministry stresses it is important to keep in mind the reason why people use drugs – fun, relaxation, socialization and self-medication.
The ministry intends to use its plan to reduce alcohol and narcotics consumption in society and provide residents quality and focused measures to help break addition and other healthcare and social services.
The ministry also plans to ensure use of alcohol and narcotics does not increase in three years’ time, since it is difficult to ensure reduced alcohol and narcotic substance in such a short period of time.
Latvian Ministry of Health stresses that multiple measures to reduce the damage from use of narcotics were included in the plan intended to limit the spread of HIV, STDs, hepatitis type B and C in 2023 to 2027.
At the same time, the ministry notes that the plan does not include measures to limit narcotic substance offers, nor does it include measures to limit accessibility of alcoholic beverages and their advertisement.

The ministry has plans to resolve multiple problems, and one of them is high consumption of alcohol among residents.

It is also planned to tackle the issue of use of narcotics, especially cannabis, among teenagers and adults.
Minister of Health Daniels Pavļuts reported that activities intended to break addition can help youngsters learn new skills and acquire more knowledge to help reduce the risk of addiction.
These activities would also help train teachers in topics of addiction prevention. Among the measures to assist with this there is the proposal to create a unified helpline for residents suffering from addition problems, as well as adopt state-funded aid for people in prison and people under probation.

There are also plans to increase involvement from general practitioners in identifying cases of addiction.

Pavļuts mentioned that his ministry and the Ministry of Welfare have signed an agreement on progression towards social mentoring institution for municipal social services. He stressed that it is important to come up with a cooperation system between municipal and other institutions in order to create support services for persons suffering from addictions.
Minister of Welfare Gatis Eglītis added that when it comes to social and employment topics, most people suffering from addictions are also long-term unemployed, and these people have little motivation to go back to the labour market. He stressed that the traditional employment policy does not work for long-term unemployed persons. This means it is important to think about cooperation with the healthcare sector in order to have these people return back to life.
The implementation of the plan will require funding of EUR 1.5 million next year, EUR 5.1 million in 2024 and EUR 4.6 million in 2025.