Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1022
Title: LITHUANIA'S DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS10222005-09-27 13:19:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001022 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, INL AND OES/IHA 
WHITE HOUSE FOR ONDCP (DMURRAY) 
COPENHAGEN FOR LDANDO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV SNAR LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA'S DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY 
 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (SBU) Overall drug use and addiction rates in Lithuania 
are low, and policymakers are debating how to keep them that 
way.  To encourage that discussion, Embassy Vilnius hosted a 
half-day conference on USG policy regarding drug prevention 
and treatment for over 60 influential decision-makers from 
Parliament, the GOL, and the public health sector.  The 
conference, with high-level speakers from Health and Human 
Services and, via DVC, from the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy focused on USG policy and on 
successful prevention and treatment strategies.  HHS 
representatives also participated in private meetings with 
the Health Minister, members of Parliament, and NGOs to 
elaborate on our policies and to consult with the GOL on the 
development of its new national drug control strategy.  End 
Summary. 
 
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NARCOTIC USE LOW 
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¶2. (SBU) Drug use in the general population is relatively low 
in Lithuania.  According to data from the Lithuanian 
Narcotics Control Department, about eight percent of the 
overall population and 17 percent of Lithuanians 15-24 have 
tried illegal drugs, compared to 42 percent and 49 percent in 
the United States.  The most commonly used illegal drug among 
this demographic segment is marijuana, with 16 percent of 
youth having tried it, followed by about three percent 
consuming MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamines.  Drug use is 
substantially higher in certain at-risk subgroups.  Over 50 
percent of club-goers and 80 percent of homeless children 
reported previous narcotics use.  GOL data shows that opiate 
addiction is not common in young people.  Only 0.5 percent 
admitted opiate use.  Opiate addicts are the greatest 
consumers of public health system services for addiction. 
More than 80 percent of the 5,000 patients who received such 
services in 2004 were opiate (primarily heroin) addicts. 
Opiate addicts also account for over 75 percent of new HIV 
cases. 
 
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KEEPING IT THAT WAY: 
Reforming Drug Prevention and Treatment 
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¶3. (SBU) The GOL is taking steps to modernize and centralize 
its narcotics control programs.  In 2004, the Government 
adopted a "National Drug Addiction Prevention and Drug 
Control Strategy for 2004-2008," based on the anti-drug 
strategy the European Union adopted in 1999.  The GOL plan 
established a cabinet-level Narcotics Control Department, 
similar to the White House Office of National Drug Control 
Policy (ONDCP), and allocated LTL 1.2 million (USD 450,000) 
in initial funding.  The new authority will assume budgetary 
and planning responsibility for the implementation of 
narcotics prevention and control policy, and will coordinate 
central and local government activities. 
 
¶4. (SBU) The Parliament, in early 2005, began debate on a 
draft EU action plan for drug prevention.  According to media 
reports, Lithuania was the only EU country where there was 
significant opposition to the plan.  Several Lithuanian MPs 
opposed provisions in the action plan, including treatment 
programs using methadone replacement therapy and needle 
exchange.  Despite the opposition, the GOL officially 
approved the plan this summer.  In response, first-term MP 
and former journalist Ramune Visockyte, in cooperation with 
the local NGO "Parents Against Drugs," organized a conference 
and press event on drug treatment in Lithuania, campaigning 
against drug control policies that, in their view, are too 
permissive.  In her remarks, which local media featured in 
their reports of the events, MP Visockyte inaccurately 
characterized U.S. drug treatment policy, stating that the 
USG opposed methadone treatment and considered its use 
ineffective.  We met with Visockyte on two occasions to 
clarify USG policy.  She subsequently toned down her public 
comments somewhat, but continues to mischaracterize USG 
policies to support allegations of inadequacies in the 
Lithuanian treatment system. 
 
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A CONFERENCE TO CLEAR THE AIR 
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¶5. (SBU) We hosted a half-day conference September 7 to share 
USG-funded drug prevention and treatment strategies with 
public health sector decision-makers and to ensure that our 
policies were clear.  The program included remarks by the 
Ambassador, GOL Health Minister Zilvinas Padaiga, and MP 
Visockyte.  Senior Advisor Stephenie Colston of the 
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse 
and Mental Health Services Administration discussed U.S. drug 
prevention and treatment practices, and Dr. David Murray, 
Special Assistant to the Director of ONDCP, addressed U.S. 
national drug control policies via DVC. 
 
¶6. (SBU) Colston emphasized that drug addiction is an illness 
and public health problem that can and should be treated. 
She discussed our treatment programs, including 
high-threshold methadone replacement therapy, and underlined 
that treatments should be science-based, regulated, and 
continuously evaluated for effectiveness.  Colston laid out 
the foundations of our policies against drug legalization, 
needle exchange, and injection rooms.  Dr. Murray stressed 
that USG policy is strictly against decriminalization or 
legalization of illegal drugs.  He said the U.S. will 
continue to focus on prevention, treatment, and demand 
reduction, citing the success of Drug Courts and other 
alternatives to incarceration. 
 
¶7. (SBU) Colston, along with the Ambassador, met with the 
Health Minister Padaiga to highlight the importance of 
science-based policies and to offer increased cooperation 
with the GOL as they implement their new national drug 
prevention and control program.  Padaiga indicated that he 
looked forward to further collaboration. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶8. (SBU) The Embassy-sponsored conference was successful in 
broadening the knowledge of major constituencies working on 
Lithuanian drug policy, including NGOs, the Parliament, and 
the GOL.  Those who attended have a clearer understanding of 
U.S. priorities in drug prevention and treatment and of the 
importance of comprehensive treatment programs.  Our speakers 
were able to share our policies, strategies, and the results 
of 30 years of experience in drug prevention and treatment. 
We plan to organize similar events to help Lithuania 
strengthen its policies.  In future meetings, we will focus 
on the role of communities, parents and schools in drug 
prevention and on the importance of counseling and other 
services as part of drug treatment programs. 
MULL