Established in 2004 and 2005, the District Drug Abuse Committees coordinate the implementation of the drug strategy at the local level. The committees act as drug coordinators and implement the county`s action plans to combat drug abuse. The members of these committees are experts and representatives of local governments. Drug treatment in Croatia is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, while certain types of treatment (such as programmes for young drug addicts, rehabilitation and rehabilitation of drug addicts) are the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth. The treatment of drug addiction in prisons and during the probationary period is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. Treatment services under State supervision are funded by the Ministry of Health, the counties and the Croatian Health Insurance Institute. Therapeutic communities or certain associations are funded by the Drug Abuse Control Office of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, the Ministry of Health, counties and other donors. The general prevention of drug addiction is widely organized and implemented within the education system under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. School prevention is mainly aimed at motivating young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, to develop their self-esteem and social skills, to offer alternative activities for leisure and, ultimately, to reduce young people`s interest in experimenting with addictive substances.
In 2013, a module-based health education programme was introduced in all primary and secondary schools. Previously, anyone convicted of drug possession could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. According to the changes to the country`s penal code, possession of drugs for personal use will no longer be a criminal offence. Until 2012, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problematic drug use as injecting drug use or prolonged/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012, a new definition of “high-risk drug use” was adopted. The new definition includes “problematic drug use” but is broader (mainly for high-risk use of more substances). Details can be found here. As with the previous Croatian drugs strategy, the current strategy will be accompanied by two successive action plans, each covering a period of three years. The second action plan, adopted on 2 April 2015, runs from 2015 to 2017.
It is based on the same pillars and cross-cutting issues as the National Drug Abuse Strategy for 2012-2017. Total public expenditure on drugs amounted to 0.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014. The Croatian central government spent €102,712,000, of which 79.9% was spent on public policies and security, 17.6% on health and less than 3% of total expenditure on education, social protection and defence (Table 1). On October 15, 2015, the Ministry of Health officially legalized the use of cannabis-based medicines for medical purposes for patients with diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or AIDS.  The complete and exhaustive list of drugs, substances, psychotropic substances and plants used in the production of drugs recognised by Croatia can be found here. In 2014, the total number of drug-related offences reported was 9,999, a slight upward trend from 2010. Most of them were associated with cannabis. Harm reduction programs, primarily needle and syringe programs, aim to inject drugs to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases, particularly HBV, HCV and HIV, and to reduce other adverse consequences associated with drug use. The first harm reduction programmes focusing on problem drug users were introduced in 1996, immediately after the Croatian Parliament recognized this approach as an important element of the national drug strategy. The NGO Help launched its first project in Split in 1996, while the Croatian Red Cross started its projects in Zagreb, Zadar and Pula in 1998, followed by activities in Rijeka by the NGO Terra in 1999.
Today, these programmes are regularly implemented at six fixed sites, 41 sites through public relations and 55 sites through mobile vans operated by the Croatian Red Cross and the NGO Institute, Help, Hepatos, HUHIV, Let, Ne-ovisnost and Terra. The categories of criminal sanctions for drugs and associated penalties are as follows: There have been several cases in which foreign citizens have been detained without bail for weeks and months because there is an understandable risk that they will leave the country before their trial. Yes, this is discrimination, but this argument will not get you far if you have been caught distributing drugs in Croatia. There is a growing trend of foreigners coming to Croatia during the summer season to sell drugs at popular festivals across the country. This “financial opportunity” is extremely risky. If you are caught, you will go to prison in Croatia. Prison in Croatia is NOT PLEASANT. Methadone was introduced in 1991 and is currently used in the following types of treatment: short-term detoxification of hospitalized patients; prolonged outpatient detoxification; and short- and long-term maintenance treatment. Buprenorphine substitution was introduced in 2004, and the proportion of clients receiving buprenorphine has been steadily increasing since 2006, when the Croatian Health Insurance Institute began to cover the cost of this treatment; Since 2012, more than half of OST`s customers have received buprenorphine as a replacement. Only specialists (e.g.
general practitioners) and treatment centres can prescribe substitution treatment. However, this treatment is mainly carried out by family doctors. OST is also available in prisons. In 2006, the Croatian government adopted guidelines for the use of methadone in substitution therapy for opiate users. In December 2006, guidelines for the use of buprenorphine in opioid substitution therapy were also approved by the Drug Abuse Commission of the Government of the Republic of Croatia. In 2009, it was decided to introduce suboxones as an alternative substitute. When we talk about drugs in Croatia, they are all the same in the eyes of the law. The law simply refers to drugs, plants or substances used to make drugs. On 14 December, the Croatian Parliament adopted a draft law that decriminalises the possession of small quantities of illicit drugs. Prisoners Abroad currently supports 84 Britons between the ages of 18 and 30 who are being held abroad for drug-related offences – 62 are still on trial. In 2021, 8,951 drug seizures were recorded in Croatia. Cannabis is the most commonly used drug.
Croatia is also one of the European countries where cannabis is most consumed. The law does not define the amounts and penalties for personal drug use. Since this is the case, there is a lot of discretion for the police officer and/or judge who is directing your case. Each case is unique and judges decide to choose the sentence based on various factors and circumstances. Croatia`s National Strategy to Combat Drug Abuse for the period 2012-2017, adopted in May 2012, builds on the evaluation of the previous strategy. It aims to reduce both the demand for and supply of medicines in society, while protecting the health of individuals, families and communities through an integrated and balanced approach to tackling drug problems. This comprehensive vision is reflected in four main objectives: the Croatian Drugs Strategy reflects the balanced approach to tackling the drugs problem, as reflected in the EU Drugs Strategy 2005-12 and its successor, the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020. This is reflected in the structure of the strategy, which is based on the two pillars of supply and demand reduction and on the three cross-cutting areas: (i) information, research, monitoring and evaluation; (ii) coordination; and (iii) international cooperation. Although the strategy focuses mainly on illicit drugs, prevention programmes also focus on legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs) and other addictions (gambling, internet), while supply reduction activities also include doping in addition to precursors, illegal drugs and new psychoactive substances. The central element of the Croatian drug treatment system is the provision of outpatient treatment facilities, although inpatient services and therapeutic communities are also available. Outpatient treatment is organized by a network of mental health and addiction prevention services in the county`s public health institutes.
These services include individual and group psychotherapy, prescribing and continuing TST and other pharmacological treatments, as well as testing and counseling on a variety of topics. In terms of modalities, drug treatment predominates. In addition to these centers, outpatient treatment of drug addiction is also offered by some associations that work according to low threshold principles, by general practitioners, in particular by the continuation of the OST, and by some outpatient units in general hospitals.