At the end of May ECAD held the second Baltic Spice Alert project conference in Tallinn. It was titled
"Why do most drug related deaths occur in the Baltic Sea Region?".

The conference was preceded by a study visit to the Estonian Forensic Science Institute and discussions on fentanyl fatalities -  the main cause ot Estonian highest drug-related mortality rates in the EU (EMCDDA Drug Report 2016, trends and developments).
This time the project gathered the most qualified researchers working with the drug overdose mortality rates in Estonia, Latvia and Sweden to explain the negative statistics reflected in the recent European drug reports. Police representatives, forensic specialists, youth coordinators working at schools, Tallinn and Riga City social policy officers amounted to 35 conference delegates from all 3 project countries.Publiken

As the discussions progressed, some light was shed on the very different specifics of the highest overdose mortality rates in the region.Fentanyls and its fake analogues bother mostly Estonian partners, while Latvian and Swedish colleagues mention
the new psychoactive substances often mixed with benzodiazepines as the main factor contributing to the high mortality rates.

Both synthetic cannabinoids (that caused a number of deaths in Latvia and Sweden in 2014) and synthetic opioids (troubling Swedish law enforcement and forensic specialists at the moment) have become a critical challenge to detect and identify in seizures and in biological specimines. Synthetic cannabinoids and their chemical components are also under constant modifications that place them under an ambiguous legal status in national legislations. Detecting and identifying these new substances is in fact a precondition for excelling an effective prevention and treatment policy, and all the project partners already employ the EMCDDA Early Warning system to do so.

Latvian Police and Jaan PoskaRathaus i Tallinn copy

The project partners also identified effective risk communication as the main prevention tool. Raising public awareness on the risks of the NPS, in addiction to the legislative measures to control the incoming NPS seemed extremely important. In addition to that, sharing expertise on national health experience seemed a valuable experience within this project, which is why Baltic Spice Alert is building up a network.

ECAD presented a new project, an efficient prevention tool in tackling the spread of the synthetic mixes in the Southern Sweden recently. The project "Film for Real" proved to be a success in reaching for the younger generation by involving them in research on drug effects and in actual film production. It run in 3 Swedish cities : Ystad, Simrishamn and Staffanstorp and is about to be launched in the cities of ECAD. Please contact ECAD Office if you are interested to know more.

Three project network partners will meet again this autumn in Stockholm. ECAD will report on the progress of the conference and study visit plans during the summer.

Tallinn Conference materials (still keep coming):

Overview of Estonia`s Drug Policy, Anna-Liisa Pääsukene, Ministry of Social Affiars, Estonia

Drug Overdose Mortality in Estonia, Gleb Denissov, Head of the Estonian Causes of Death Registry, Estonian National Institute for Health Development

Lethal outcomes and drug overdoses in Estonia. Statistical overview. Mailis Tönisson, forensic toxicologist, Estonian Forensic Science Institute

Latvian Police on Drug Fatalities, Jānis Berzkalns, Deputy Chief, Edgars Bukšs, Chief Inspector, Riga Municipal Police Department, Latvia

An innovative Prevention project and Spice-related deaths in Southern Sweden

Drug-induced deaths in Latvia,
Diana Vanaga, researcher, Reitox National Focal Point, Latvia

Stora torget i gamla Tallinn copy