Denmark Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

In Denmark, the overall level of drug use among the adult general population has remained more or less stable in recent years. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among the Danish adult general population, followed by cocaine, MDMA/ecstasy and amphetamines. Drug use is concentrated among young people and experimentation with illicit drugs peaks at 16-19 years. A 2017 general population survey indicates that almost half of young adults aged 16-34 years had tried cannabis, with those aged 16-24 years reporting the highest last year prevalence of cannabis use. The most recent data suggest a slight drop in the prevalence of cannabis use among the Danish general population over the period 2013-17, while a slight increase in the use of illicit drugs other than cannabis can be observed. The long-term trend also indicates a decline in last month consumption of amphetamine among those aged less than 25 years since 2000, whereas consumption of cocaine has increased since that date. Illicit drug use is more common among men than women, and the increase in cocaine use over the period 2013-17 is more evident among men than women.

 

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Drug use among students aged 15-16 years is reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey has been conducted regularly in Denmark since 1995. Lifetime use of cannabis, use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in 2015 were all lower than the ESPAD averages (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 averages for alcohol use in the last 30 days and for heavy episodic drinking during the last 30 days.

 

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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 first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform an understanding of the nature of and trends in high-risk drug use.

The general population survey suggested that approximately 0.7 % of the Danish population aged 15-64 years used cannabis daily or almost daily in 2017. 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.

Cannabis is the most frequently reported primary drug among clients entering specialised treatment. In contrast to the increasing 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 younger than 30 years. Approximately one quarter of the clients in treatment are women; however, the proportion of women in treatment varies by type of drug and type of programme.

 

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.