Norway Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

Data from the annual general population surveys carried out since 2012 indicate that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the general population in Norway, and its level of use has been relatively stable in recent years. Use of all other substances is reported to be lower, with cocaine being the most prevalent illicit stimulant drug used. The use of illicit drugs is concentrated mostly among young adults, and males generally report higher prevalence rates than females.

The prevalence of use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is very low among the adult general population, and studies indicate that experimentation with these substances may be more common among young people in nightlife settings.

The city of Oslo 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. An increase in levels of the stimulant MDMA/ecstasy was reported in 2016, which may be related to the increased purity or increased availability and use of the drug. Oslo is among the European cities with relatively high methamphetamine levels in wastewater, although a decreasing trend has been observed since 2014.

Drug use among students aged 15-16 years is reported in the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), which has been conducted in Norway since 1995, and the latest data available are from 2015.

Compared with the ESPAD averages (35 countries), Norway appears to have a generally low prevalence of substance use. Norwegian students reported significantly lower than average prevalence rates for lifetime use of cannabis, lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and lifetime use of NPS. The proportions of students reporting alcohol use in the last 30 days, heavy episodic drinking and cigarette use in the last 30 days are each less than half the ESPAD average.

 

Estimates of last-year drug use among young adults (16-34 years) in Norway

 

NBEstimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.

 

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

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.

High-risk drug use in Norway is linked mainly to injecting amphetamines and opioids, mainly heroin. The latest available estimate indicates that, following a decline between 2008 and 2012, the number of people who inject drugs (PWID) has stabilised since 2012 (8 400 people in 2014). The estimated number of opioid users who are not participating in OST has also remained relatively stable in recent years.

Based on data from the general population surveys, it has been estimated that 0.3 % of 16- to 64-year-olds in Norway use cannabis daily or almost daily, although daily or almost daily cannabis use is far more common among marginalised groups, such as homeless drug users.

Data from specialised treatment centres in Norway indicate that polydrug users are the main group entering drug treatment; the other main groups are users of cannabis and opioids. However, it is necessary to consider that the Norwegian monitoring system is undergoing reorganisation, which may affect data validity. The long-term analysis indicates that there has been a decrease in the number of clients seeking treatment as a result of opioid use over recent years. In addition, a substantial proportion of clients entering treatment report more than one problem drug, and opioids are frequently reported in a polydrug context. The proportion of females in treatment varies by primary drug and type of programme.

High-risk drug use in Norway is linked mainly to injecting amphetamines and opioids

 

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

NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year.


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