Denmark Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

In Denmark, the prevalence of use of most illicit substances, with the exception of cannabis, has fallen over the last 15 years. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the Danish adult general population, followed by amphetamines, cocaine and MDMA/ecstasy.

Drug use is concentrated among young people and experimentation with illicit drugs peaks at 16-19 years. Data from a 2013 general population survey showed that one in two young adults aged 16-34 years had ever tried cannabis, while 1 in 10 had ever tried cocaine. Slightly fewer than one fifth of young adults had used cannabis in the last year and the last-year prevalence rates were highest among those aged 16-24 years.

These data, when compared with previous studies, indicate that there has been a slight upwards trend in cannabis use among young adults since 2010.

The most recent survey also indicates a decreasing trend in use of amphetamines and MDMA among young people, while cocaine use remained reasonably stable during that period among this age group. Males generally report higher prevalence rates than females.

Drug use among students aged 15-16 years is reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). These surveys have been conducted regularly in Denmark since 1995. Lifetime use of cannabis, use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and use of NPS were slightly lower than or close to the ESPAD average (35 countries). Trends show that lifetime prevalence of cannabis use increased until 1999, stabilised between 1999 and 2003 and has declined since then. In 2015, Danish students reported prevalence rates considerably higher than the ESPAD average for alcohol use in the last 30 days and for heavy episodic drinking during the last 30 days.


Estimates of last-year cannabis use among young adults (15-34 years) in Denmark


NBEstimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.


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

NBESPAD study 2015.

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.

In 2009, the number of people who inject drugs (PWID) was estimated to be approximately 13 000.

The general population survey suggested that approximately 0.4 % of the Danish population aged 15-64 years used cannabis daily or almost daily in 2013.

The long-term analysis indicates an overall increase up to 2009 in the estimated number of people who may experience physical, psychological and social consequences related to drug use, including cannabis use. More recent estimates of high-risk drug use are not available.

The available data from specialised treatment centres indicate that cannabis is increasingly mentioned as the most frequently reported primary drug and that most new treatment clients enter treatment as a result of primary cannabis use. In contrast to the trend observed among cannabis users, the number of new clients seeking treatment as a result of primary heroin use has declined over recent years. Injecting is becoming less common among heroin users and, in particular, among those entering treatment for the first time. In general, most of those entering treatment for the first time are under 30.

In 2009, the number of people who inject drugs was estimated to be approximately 13 000

Approximately one quarter of the clients in treatment are female; however, the proportion of females in treatment varies by type of drug and 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 Denmark


NBYear of data 2014. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.

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