Malta Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the Maltese adult population aged 18-65 years. According to the 2013 general population study, around 4.3 % of those aged 18-65 years reported having used cannabis during their lifetime. The level of lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis was 1.4 % (MDMA, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, mephedrone, any of the NPS or LSD); MDMA was the most popular among this group of substances. Drug use was more prevalent in younger adults, with the prevalence of lifetime use of cannabis at 5.1 % among 18- to 24-year-olds. In general, the use of illicit drugs was more common among males than females. In the 2013 study, among those who had used cannabis during their lifetime, the average age at first use was just under 19.

Drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students is reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey has been conducted in Malta since 1995 and the latest data are from 2015. In 2015, Maltese students reported levels of lifetime cannabis use that were lower than the ESPAD average (35 countries), while levels of lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and lifetime use of NPS were very close to the ESPAD average. For two key variables studied, the Maltese students reported above average levels: alcohol use in the last 30 days and heavy episodic drinking in the last 30 days. Other than this, Maltese students reported substance use levels that were around or below the ESPAD averages.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the Maltese adult population aged 18-65 years


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

NBSource: ESPAD 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 Malta, heroin remains the illicit drug that is linked with the more severe health, legal and social consequences

Data from specialised treatment centres indicate that cocaine-related first treatment demands have increased in recent years, while heroin-related treatment demands have decreased. Sniffing is main method of use for cocaine, and only a few treatment clients inject it. Although 6 out of 10 primary heroin use clients reported injecting as a primary method of use, injecting is less common among first-time clients. Fewer than one fifth of clients in treatment are female.

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

NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year since 2009.

Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment centres in Malta



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

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