New psychoactive substances (NPS) started to appear on the Lithuanian drug market in 2005. However, they have gained momentum only in the last few years. For comparison, in 2012 there were 62 cases of confiscation of NPS, while in 2016 there were 433, and in 2017, 441.14 The most commonly used NPS by people who have drug use experience in Lithuania are synthetic opioids and cannabinoids, whereas young people who use drugs occasionally tend to use synthetic cathinones, as well as dissociative hallucinogen NPS and classic hallucinogen NPS.
Drug policy laws in Lithuania were changed in 2017 with the aim to decrease drug supply and demand. However, different data (see Chapter 4) show that drug use is stable or, in some populations, increasing. Meanwhile, more people are being punished for minor drug offenses, and the State is investing in the persecution of people who use drugs, while treatment and harm reduction programs are suffering and struggling to survive. There is no sustainability of funding, and existing funding is not covering the entire need.
The project “New Psychoactive Substance Use in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Serbia” was undertaken to generate a more accurate picture of the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Serbia, and additionally in Estonia and Lithuania, to assess harm reduction and law enforcement responses to the emerging issues related to the use of NPS. In 2019, similar research was conducted in Belarus and Moldova. Results from this project will supplement scarce international data on the use of NPS in these countries, present a more accurate picture of their use, and provide information to national civil society organizations for political advocacy.
The present report provides research results from Lithuania. The study was conducted in partnership between the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the School of Law, Swansea University, and supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund. The Principal Investigator for the overall project was Dr. Rick Lines of the Swansea University School of Law, and the research methodology was reviewed and approved by the Ethical Review Committee at Swansea University. This report was prepared by the coordinator and researcher for this project, Eliza Kurcevič, Senior Program Officer at EHRA.