Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on illicit drug markets and drug users’ behavior

There is fragmented information coming from the field workers of harm reduction programs and community representatives that the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact on illicit drug supply and drug consumption practices. We hypothesize that the pandemic will affect illicit drug markets, including online markets, in terms of changing availability, purity, pricing for illicit drugs, and will facilitate changes in drug users’ behaviors in terms of substances consumed (amounts, combinations, route of administration) and ways of obtaining those substances. Georgia and Ukraine are selected for this study due to a number of reasons.

In this prospective cohort study, we recruited 50 regular drug users per country (total n=100) who fill in online questionnaire in every two weeks and have qualitative individual interviews once in 3 months. We will follow them up regularly for 24 weeks (about six months). In addition, individual interviews are conducted with field-experts and stakeholders once a month. Furthermore, we are monitoring online drug market.

Date of the project: 1st April, 2020 – 1st October, 2020

Project is funded by European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)