The latest available data on drug use among the general population in Greece are from a household survey conducted in 2004 and another survey conducted in 2006 in three cities. These studies found that cannabis was the most commonly used illicit substance and its use was concentrated among young adults aged 15-34 years.
Athens 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 different illicit drugs and their metabolites in sources of wastewater. The presence of cocaine metabolites and MDMA/ecstasy shows that stimulant use was higher at the weekend than on weekdays in 2016. In general, the levels of amphetamine metabolites and MDMA were low, indicating limited use of these substances in Athens. A decrease in the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites has been reported over the period 2014-16, indicating a possible decline in the use of those substances.
Information on drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students is available from the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The survey has been conducted in Greece every four years since 1999. In 2015, for one of the eight key variables, the Greek results were clearly below the ESPAD average (35 countries), namely the lifetime use of cannabis. Nevertheless, long-term trends indicate a tendency towards an increase in cannabis use among students since 2007. In the case of lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis, tranquillisers or sedatives without prescription and new psychoactive substances (NPS), the Greek results were similar to the ESPAD average. Approximately 3 % of Greek school students reported lifetime use of a synthetic cannabinoid. Cigarette use in the last 30 days was similar to the ESPAD average. In contrast, lifetime use of inhalants was more common among the Greek students. Approximately three quarters of the Greek students reported that alcohol use had occurred during the last 30 days, which was well above the average for all countries, and a slightly higher proportion than the ESPAD average reported that heavy episodic drinking had taken place during the same period
Substance use among 15- to 16- year-old school students in Greece
Source: ESPAD study 2015
Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on 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 Greece is mostly attributed to the injecting of opioids, mainly heroin. The size of the high-risk drug-using population has been estimated annually since 2002, based on the capture-recapture method applied to three drug treatment data sources; the available data suggest that the number of high-risk heroin users has decreased since 2010.
Heroin use remains the most common reason for seeking specialised treatment in Greece; however, the number of people entering treatment for the first time as a result of primary heroin use has halved in recent years, while the number of cannabis-related treatment demands has increased.
Heroin users entering treatment tend to be older than those who seek treatment primarily for cannabis use. In recent years, injecting as a primary mode of primary heroin use has declined from 44 % in 2006 to 33 % in 2015, while sniffing has become more common among this group. Approximately 1 out of 10 treatment clients is female; however, the proportion in treatment varies by type of primary drug and programme.
National estimates of last year prevalence of high-risk opioid use
NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year.
Estimates of last-year cannabis use among young adults (15-34 years) in Greece
NBYear of data 2015. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.