Drug-related social costs

What is known about drug-related social costs in Hungary?

Definition of social costs include all the losses and arrears of income on the level of society in general, without consideration of its segments (enterprises, householdings, public administration). Drug-related public expenditures refer to identification of different sub-categories (central, local and regional authorities, health insurance) within the state budget with the help of special estimation methods. On the overall social cost of drug-use a study has not yet been conducted. On public expenditure – that is part of the social costs – there has been an estimation made, based on data between 2000 and 20007.

General population surveys

How widespread is drug use among the youth?

The sixth survey of the ESPAD series was carried out in 2015. According to its results, 26.8% of the 16-year-old pupils have already used illicit or licit drugs in their lives. Among the pupils interviewed the lifetime prevalence of all substance use was 25.9% of boys and 27.6% of girls. Almost every fifth pupil tried an illicit drug, every sixth pupil misused medicines, and every tenth pupil tried a new psychoactive substance.


What is the prevalence of drug use among prisoners?

As part of the development of the data recording system in relation to the risk assessment system implemented recently in Hungarian detention facilities questions on drug use were asked from a sample of 1170 prisoners in March 2015. 31.8% (355 persons) of the prisoners participating in the survey self-reported having ever used drugs in their lives prior to imprisonment. Regarding the lifetime prevalence by substances types, cannabis use was reported by 218 prisoners (18.7% of the total sample and 61.4% of ever users). The second most frequently used substance type was stimulants: 205 persons (17.5% of the total sample and 57.7% of ever users) reported to have tried them. Nearly the same proportion of respondents (202 persons, 28.2%) reported that they had taken regularly a medicine withdrawing from which would affect their behaviour. Use of hallucinogens was reported by 50 prisoners (4.3% of the total sample and 14.1% of ever users), use of opioids by 43 persons (3.7%, 12.1%), use of inhalants by 23 persons (2%, 6.5%) and 77 prisoners reported to have tried designer drugs (6.6%, 21.7%).


What kind of prevention programmes are there in Hungary?

The national data collection aiming at mapping prevention programmes identified 253 organisations dealing with addiction prevention (as well), operating between 2013-2015. From those currently 194 organisations run their own prevention programmes (i.e. objectives and methods are homogenous in each target group). One third of the service providers can be found in Central-Hungary (Budapest and Pest county). 7-8 service providers by county are at present in the rest of the country. most of the service providers (85%) run prevention programmes as part of their main activity which is mostly treatment and care, other supporting or training/educational activity. The majority of the organisations (70%) are NGOs. Local governments and budgetary institutions also represent a relatively high rate (24%).

Problem drug use

What does problem or high risk drug use mean?

According to EMCDDA’s definition high risk drug use is ‘recurrent drug use that is causing actual harms (negative consequences) to the person (including dependence, but also other health, psychological or social problems), or is placing the person at a high probability/risk of suffering such harms’. This indicator also covers population size estimates of the high risk drug user groups and monitoring new patterns of drug use as well.

Drug-related treatment

How many clients entered drug treatment in 2015?

In 2015 the 79 treatment units reporting to the TDI system reported on 4308 clients entering treatment due to drug use. 90.5% of all the clients (3900 out of the 4308 persons) started treatment at specialised outpatient units, low threshold service providers or at general/mental health care service providers. In the scope of outpatient treatment 2780 persons started treatment as an alternative to criminal procedure (QCT).

Drug-related infectious diseases

What are the incidence and the prevalence of hepatitis C among IDUs?

In 2015 19 cases of acute hepatitis C were reported, the incidence rate was 0.2%ooo. Among the 19 patients, the transmission route was known in the case of 6 patients among whom three persons belonged to the risk group of injecting drug users.

The laboratory tests of the national HIV/HBV/HCV seroprevalence survey coordinated by the National Centre for Epidemiology gave a conclusive result in 559 cases for HCV. Among them 289 persons tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies (49.7%). Among current drug users injecting in the past 4 weeks prior to the survey, 60.3% tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies.

Harm reduction

Why are needle/syringe programmes (NSP) important?

One of the key elements of harm reduction approach is the NSP, the main aim of which is to prevent HIV and hepatitis infections. Through NSPs it is possible that IDUs exchange their already used injecting equipments (needles, syringes, filters, etc.) to sterile ones for free. However, it does not only mean the distribution of sterile paraphernalia but the collection and safe disposition of the used ones in order to prevent the transmission of viral infections. Besides needle exchange, NSPs often also distribute condoms and provide counselling and education on safer sexual behaviour and safe injecting practices.

Drug-related death and mortality

How many people die because of drug overdose in Hungary?

In 2015 25 deaths directly related to drug use were reported to the special register of deaths, which means a return to the number experienced in previous years after the high number of cases in 2013 (2014: 23; 2013:31; 2012: 24; 2011:14, 2010:17 cases). Before the appearance of the new psychoactive substances in 2010, direct drug-related deaths were characteristically linked to opioid use and, within this, to heroin use. In parallel with the drastic reduction of the availability of heroin in 2010, the number of deaths linked to this substance also dropped. In recent years the use of the new psychoactive substances can also be seen in the biological samples of the corpses.

Drug-related crime

What was the breakdown of registered drug offences by drug type?

Half (52.1%, 3301 cases) of the registered drug offences were committed with cannabis, 28.7% (1811 cases) with stimulants, and 6.8% (432 cases) with new psychoactive substances. Among stimulants, the most frequently occurring substances were amphetamine (83.4%), MDMA (ecstasy) (7.9%) and methamphetamine (5.4%). The most prevalent new psychoactive substances were cathinone derivatives (33.6%), synthetic cannabinoids (22.5%) and phenethylamines (17.8%). Cocaine was registered as the subject of the offence in 3.5% of the cases, opioids in 2.6% (heroin 1.1%, methadone 0.5%, morphine 0.4%), hallucinogens in 1.3% and other substances in 4.3% of cases.

(Trafficking) offences with new psychoactive substances involve criminal liability since April 2012; offences committed with new psychoactive substances form an increasingly larger proportion of drug law offences (2013: 3.5%, 2014: 6.1%, 2015: 6.8%).

In 2015 the most prevalent new psychoactive substances were cathinone derivatives (33.6%), synthetic cannabinoids (22.5%) and phenethylamines (17.8%).

Drug markets

What types and quantities of drugs were seized in Hungary in 2011?

There was no significant change in the number of cannabis seizures in 2014, while the amount of seized herbal cannabis continued to drop compared to the previous two years. The number of cannabis resin seizures on the other hand is continuously growing. While the number of heroin seizures did not increase significantly, the amount of the material seized reached 70 kilograms in 2014, which is a significant change compared to the 5.7 kilograms seized during 2013. The number of amphetamine and MDMA seizures shows a slightly increasing tendency, however the seized amount in the case of both materials slightly dropped compared to 2013.
There has been a significant increase in the number of seized “classic” ecstasy tablets containing the active substance MDMA since 2012. While the number of such tablets seized in 2011 was 270, by 2012 this number was above 10,000. In 2013, with the number of seizures of all tablets containing illicit drugs or new psychoactive substances rising, frequency of occurrence of tablets containing the active substance MDMA was the highest (26% of seizures). As this tendency continued, more than half (53%) of the tablets seized in 2014 contained only MDMA-like substances.

Early Warning System

What was the market share of new psychoactive substances in past years?

During 2010–2014 new psychoactive substances completely restructured the Hungarian drug market. Following the large-scale increase in the amount of mephedrone available in the summer of 2010, the proportion of the new psychoactive substances as compared to the classical drugs – substances listed in the schedules of the UN Drug Conventions – rose continuously. In 2014 the new psychoactive substances constituted nearly 60% of all police seizures. The continuous increasing trend of seizures turned back in 2015, the seizures of new psychoactive substances fell back to the level of the classical drugs.