Drug use in Estonia has fallen in Estonia between the first and second quarters of 2022, the Ministry of Justice says, with the towns of Viljandi and Võru particularly standing out.
Mari-Liis Sööt, head of the ministry's analysis service, said: "With the exception of Tallinn, drug use in Estonia has fallen.
"The decrease in methamphetamine use is especially gratifying," she added, noting that use of this narcotic had fallen in the capital also.
The South Estonian towns of Viljandi and Võru stand out with the lowest levels of drug use. "For example, amphetamines usage in Tallinn is six-fold compared with Võru, while cannabis use is three times higher in Tallinn than in Viljandi," Sööt added, in a ministry press release.
Sixten Sild (SDE), Deputy Mayor of Võru, said that while drug use is low in the town, residents are realistic about the fact that it isn't an isolated island and that nefarious characters can reach Võru, 250km from Tallinn, at any time.
"I would very much like to owe our current situation largely due to the strong choices offered by healthy leisure opportunities and the exemplary work of educational, sports and cultural institutions, though we need a lot of feedback on our work to monitor the situation," Sild went on, quoted by the justice ministry.
"Drug use is a very covert evil, one which can take any local government, in our open society, by surprise. Any opportunity to obtain adequate information about the propagation of drugs on a regular basis is therefore essential for organizing preventive activities," he added.
The results announced by the justice ministry derive from wastewater – sewage in other words – samples taken in several major population centers: Kohtla-Järve and Pärnu, as well as Viljandi, Võru and Tallinn.
The timing of the samples – taken last Monday – also exerts an influence, Sööts said.
"Samples were taken on Monday, while the substances leave the body within 1-3 days [of ingestion]. Therefore, the results will most likely be affected by the previous weekend as well," she said, suggesting a time when drug use might be at its highest.
The wastewater survey – similar techniques were used through the worst of the Covid pandemic – is taken once per quarter and its results analyzed a the request of the ministry.
In addition to amphetamines, methamphetamine and cannabis, MDMA, cocaine and methadone use was measured.
The results clearly show that cannabis is the most heavily consumed drug in Estonia, the ministry reports.
At the same time, use of that drug is measured twice a year rather than quarterly, in the wastewater surveys, since its traces are more complex and time-consuming to analyze, the ministry says.
The quarterly study is conducted by the Ministry of Justice together with the Estonian Forensic Science Institute (EKEI) and the Estonian Environmental Research Center (EKUK).
Editor: Andrew Whyte