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Ukraine’s opiate users: Russian invasion has severely disrupted access to drug-treatment services

About 317,000 Ukrainians inject drugs like heroin regularly. As of January, 14,868 of them were receiving substitute opiates such as methadone and buprenorphine. 

Ukraine has been funding these treatment services since 2017. In that year, it also rapidly expanded its services for people in need of sterile syringes, condoms and peer support or counselling – the World Health Organization-recommended minimum for harm reduction among drug users and those at risk of HIV. 

The Russian invasion has severely disrupted access to these specialist drug-treatment services. Before the war, some people would collect their methadone daily, but the Ministry of Health has advised that a 15-30 days’ supply should be given. This helps to reduce the number of trips to services, which in some parts of the country are risky. Yet even at this early stage in the war, ensuring people can secure medication is proving difficult. (Conversation, UK, 09.03.2022)