Sweden Country Drug Report 2017

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

Cannabis remains the illicit substance most commonly used in Sweden, while the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use among the general population aged 16-64 years remains low in comparison with other European countries. The data indicate that cannabis use is concentrated among young adults, in particular those aged 16-24 years, and the data also show a slight increase in last-year cannabis use over the past decade among 16- to 34-yearsolds. In general, cannabis use is more common among males than females.

In addition, the available data suggest that the use of cannabis is more common among those living in larger cities and who have a lower personal income. Approximately one third of those who report having ever used cannabis has also used some other illicit substance.

Stockholm participates in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaigns undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE), which provides data on drug use at a community level, based on the levels of different illicit drugs and their metabolites in a source of wastewater. These data complement the results from population surveys; however, wastewater analysis reports on collective consumption of pure substances within a community, and the results are not directly comparable with prevalence estimates from population surveys. The available data on stimulant drugs from Stockholm indicate weekly consumption patterns. The loads of the main cocaine metabolite (benzoylecgonine) and MDMA/ ecstasy in wastewater are higher at the weekend than on weekdays, whereas methamphetamine traces are found to be distributed more evenly throughout the week.


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

NBEstimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2015.


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

NBSource: ESPAD study 2015.

The most recent data on drug use among students come from the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drug (ESPAD). Lifetime use of cannabis among school students in Sweden in 2015 was less than half of the European average (based on data from 35 countries). Lifetime use of tranquillisers or sedatives without prescription, lifetime use of inhalants and lifetime use of NPS in Sweden were approximately the same as the ESPAD average whereas alcohol use during the last 30 days and heavy episodic drinking during the same period of time were markedly lower. Swedish students were also less likely to report cigarette use during the last 30 days. The data also point to a slight decrease in NPS use among this group compared with 2011.

High-risk drug use and trends

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk 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

A 2011 study estimated that are approximately 8 000 people who inject drugs (PWID) in Sweden, and most of them use stimulants or opioids. However, no national estimates on high-risk use prevalence by drug type have been reported.

Data from drug treatment providers indicate that opioids and stimulants remained important among first-time clients entering treatment in 2015. Cannabis was the most frequently reported primary drug among the new treatment entrants.

Approximately one out of four treatment clients in Sweden is female; however, the proportion of females in treatment varies by types of primary drug and programme.

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 in Sweden


NBYear of data 2015. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.
First-time and previously treated entrants available only for two of the three data sources available in Sweden and, therefore, not comparable with data for all entrants.

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