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Narcotic and psychotropic substance use in prisons in Lithuania: causes, challanges and solutions (NARKOVAR)

The Research Council of Lithuania has provided funding for the research “Narcotic and Psychotropic Substance Use in Prisons in Lithuania: Causes, Challenges and Solutions” (NARKOVAR). The project application will be funded through the implementation of the “Operational Programme for the European Union Funds Investments in 2014–2020“ measure “Development of scientific competencies of scientists, other researchers and students through practical research activities” activity “Promotion of Post-Doctoral Fellowships”.

The use of narcotic and psychotropic substances in prisons of the Republic of Lithuania is a major problem, which complicates the re-socialization of persons sentenced to imprisonment. According to the data on drug use in prisons provided by the annual report for the year 2019 of Department of Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol Control, the number of persons with psychiatric and behavioural disorders caused by drug use (these are mostly opioids or several types of drugs) remains relatively stable between 2013 and 2018 and counts approximately 12-13 per cent of all prisoners (to compare, in 2018 there were 851 persons out of 6,354). As these figures reflect only official statistics (i. e. these persons were identified by officials), the actual number of people using drugs or psychotropic substances (including those individuals facing problematic use) in prison may appear to be significantly higher.

The project aims to analyse the phenomenon of narcotic and psychotropic substance use in Lithuanian prisons, to highlight its peculiarities, the impact of the prison environment on psychoactive substance abuse and the most viable solutions to this problem. The project also seeks to raise awareness of the phenomenon that has so far been little explored and, at the same time, stimulate further sociological, legal or interdisciplinary research focused on the use of psychoactive substances in prisons, as the relevance of the research is based on the gap of knowledge about this phenomenon in Lithuania. The proposed research will expand the knowledge in this area and, in turn, foster more intensive research in the future.

The results of the project will be presented at international conferences, publicized in internationally recognized scientific journals as well as in a scientific study and an article for the general national public. The researcher community will also be introduced to the results through presentations in various conferences. Additionally, the researchers plan to provide legislators and practitioners working with convicts with suggestions and recommendations, that should contribute to the development of an evidence-based policy for psychoactive substances in a specific segment for prisons.

Postdoctoral fellow – Dr. Mindaugas Lankauskas.

Postdoctoral internship supervisor – Dr. Artūras Tereškinas.

Project duration: 2020-09-01–2022-08-31.

Project budget – 66 499,55 EUR.

Project is funded by the European Social Fund (Project No. 09.3.3-LMT-K-712-19-0210) under a grant agreement with the Research Council of Lithuania (LMTLT), agreement Nr. DOTSUT-115.