Austria Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

In Austria, cannabis remains the illicit substance that is most frequently used by 15- to 64-year-olds. The long-term analysis indicates a slightly increasing trend in cannabis use among young adults between 2008 and 2015; however, it is likely that the lower prevalence of use in 2008 relates to data collection methodology. Among the general population the prevalence of use of stimulants, opioids and other illicit substances is significantly lower than that of cannabis. In general, the use of illicit substances in Austria is concentrated among young adults aged 15-34 years, and males generally report higher prevalence rates than females

Lifetime prevalence of the use of NPS among the general population remains low.

While some experimentation with these substances may occur in certain settings and by a sub-group of young people, the available data from party settings indicate that the popularity of NPS may have decreased in Austria.

Innsbruck city participates in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaigns undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE). This study provides data on drug use at a community level, based on the levels of stimulant drugs and their metabolites found in wastewater. As in most European cities, the levels of cocaine and MDMA/ecstasy levels in the wastewater in Innsbruck were higher during weekends than on weekdays.


Estimates of last-year drug use among young adults (15-34 years) in Austria


NBEstimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.

Substance use among 15- to 16- year old school students in Austria

Source: ESPAD study 2015.

Drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students was reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). Compared with the ESPAD averages (35 countries), Austrian students reported somewhat higher prevalence rates of lifetime use of cannabis, while lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and lifetime use of NPS were roughly the same as the averages for all countries. Austrian students tended to report higher rates than the ESPAD averages for the variables for licit psychoactive substances

High-risk drug use and trends

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on the first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform understanding on the nature and trends in high-risk drug use

High-risk drug use in Austria remains mainly linked to the use of opioids (heroin or medication used in opioid substitution treatment, usually in combination with other illicit and licit substances). It is estimated that, in 2015, approximately half of opioid users predominantly injected the drug, with snorting and smoking being the other routes of administration. Approximately half of the estimated number of high-risk opioid users reside in Vienna, and the majority are male. In recent years, localised areas of high-risk methamphetamine use have emerged in Upper Austria.

High-risk drug use in Austria is linked to the use of heroin and other opioids


Data from specialised treatment centres in Austria also indicate that heroin was the most commonly reported primary substance among all clients entering treatment during 2015, followed by cannabis. Among first-time treatment clients, cannabis was the most commonly reported substance.

The long-term trend indicates a steady increase in the age of heroin users seeking treatment in Austria. Approximately one fifth of clients entering treatment are female, but the proportion of females in treatment varies by primary drug and by type of programme

National estimates of last year prevalence of high-risk opioid use

NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year.

Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment in Austria


NBYear of data 2015. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.

Austria main page