National anti-drug coordinator and executive vice-chairman of the Government Council for Coordination of Anti-Drug Policy Jindřich Vobořil.
Prague – The network of services to help with addiction to alcohol, tobacco or gambling is not sufficient in the regions. Care is so unaffordable. The current minimum setting is difficult to sustain without strengthening finances. National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil said this at a press conference after today's meeting of the Government Council for Coordination of Anti-Drug Policy. The council discussed the annual report on the situation in the regions for 2021.
According to the latest annual reports on addictions in the Czech Republic, 800,000 to 900,000 adults drink alcohol at risk. According to doctors' estimates, 150,000 to 170,000 people are addicted. About a third of adults, i.e. over two million people, smoke daily. Up to 110,000 people gamble at high risk. According to Vobořil, about 37,000 illegal drug users and about 30,000 alcohol addicts use support services.
“In the 1990s, the help network for people with addiction problems fell apart. Every district used to have so-called AT care, but it has almost disappeared. There are low-threshold facilities and some outpatient counseling centers, but they are primarily people with addictions to illegal drugs. As for alcohol and other addictions, which are an order of magnitude bigger problem, the network is insufficient, in many places non-existent,” said Vobořil. He added that in the Central Bohemia region alone, addiction specialists reject five hundred applicants for treatment each month due to low capacity. “There is no region that is sufficient. Big cities are a little better off, you can call several facilities and eventually get to one. Outside of a big city, most people don't get care at all,” said the coordinator.
< p>The amount for the anti-drug policy issued by municipalities fluctuates. In 2018, it reached 350.6 million. The following year, it decreased by roughly 25 million. In 2020, it rose by several million. The year before, it amounted to 449.2 million crowns. Of this, 364.6 million was provided by regions and 84.6 million by municipalities. The state allocated over two billion crowns the year before last, of which 1.3 billion crowns went to the police.
Money from regions and municipalities goes into subsidies, which care providers have to apply for again every year. They are therefore not sure of further functioning. The coordinator believes that the funding system needs to be changed. Funds should be provided for more years, the amount should be higher. The new agency could distribute it according to established criteria, taking into account the need for care in the given place and the number of applications. Vobořil is also discussing the change with the Ministry of Labour. This, in turn, prepares an amendment with a new setting for the financing of social services.
“Approximately one hundred million crowns are social costs related to tobacco, around 60 million crowns related to alcohol, approximately seven million related to illegal drugs and 16 related to gambling. These are high costs. If I put resources into prevention and early aid, it will show up in a few years. The positive impact can only be seen under the next government. This is why it is difficult to politically push for change (of finance) – especially at a time when we have a huge increase in the national debt,” Vobořil added.