The fentanyl epidemic in Estonia: factors in its evolution and opportunities for a comprehensive public health response, a scoping reviewInternational Journal of Drug Policy (2020)
Anneli Uusküla - University of Tartu, Estonia , Ave Talu - University of Tartu, Estonia , Sigrid Vorobjov - New York University, USA , et al.
For an over a decade up to 2017, Estonia has had the highest overdose death mortality in Europe. The use of (injected) fentanyl is a major contributor to the Estonian overdose death epidemic. Shutting down a major producer and distributor of illicit fentanyl has been extremely effective in curbing the number of overdose deaths. Unfortunately, this supply-side intervention came ten years into the epidemic, and might be difficult to replicate in settings with decentralized production. In areas faced by fentanyl we would recommend large-scale implementation of opiate substitution treatment and naloxone distribution, syringe service programs to provide for safer injecting and link to other services (high frequencies of fentanyl injection create high risk for HIV and HCV transmission), and programs, such as “Break the Cycle,” to reduce initiation into injecting drug use. Further, the means of responding to emerging substances should match the world in which different substances can be rapidly introduced, and where people who use drugs can change preferences based on market availability.