Poland Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

In Poland, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance among the general population, followed by MDMA/ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine. Drug use is concentrated among young adults, with those aged 25-34 years being more likely than younger or older adults to report using an illicit substance during the last year. In general, males are more likely than females to report the use of drugs.

In 2014, 1 in 10 young adults aged 15-34 years reported using cannabis in the last year. The prevalence of cannabis use increased between surveys carried out in 2006 and 2014.

Lifetime use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) among 15- to 64-year-olds was low in 2014, at 2.2 %.

Krakow 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 municipal level, based on the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites found in wastewater. In 2016, amphetamine was the most prevalent target drug residue measured in wastewater in Krakow. The levels of metabolites of methamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA detected in wastewater were low, indicating limited use of these substances in Krakow.

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The most recent data on drug use among students come from the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). In 2015, the proportion of Polish students reporting lifetime use of all categories of drugs (cannabis, NPS and illicit substances other than cannabis) was higher than the European average (based on data from 35 countries). Use of alcohol in the last 30 days and heavy episodic drinking were around the European average and use of cigarettes in the last 30 days was slightly higher than average. The long-term analysis shows that cannabis use tripled between 1995 and 2015, while lifetime use of alcohol and cigarettes decreased over the same period.

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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 most recent estimate of the number of high-risk opioid users in Poland was based on 2013 treatment data and nominations from the 2015 population survey (using a multiplier method). It was estimated that there were around 14 670 high-risk opioid users. A survey in 2014-15 based on the Severity of Dependence Scale and the Problem Cannabis Use screening test reported a prevalence of high-risk cannabis use among 15- to 64-year-olds ranging from 0.2 % to 0.3 % and estimated that the number of high-risk cannabis users in Poland at that time was between 54 000 and 108 000.

Data from specialised treatment centres are based on a recently developed reporting system that includes fewer than half of the specialised treatment centres in the country. Trend analysis is also heavily affected by the rapid expansion of the data coverage. Based on the available data, cannabis was the most commonly reported primary substance for first-time clients entering treatment during 2016, followed by amphetamines. Approximately one in five clients entering treatment was female, although females account for a smaller proportion of those entering treatment for primary cannabis use.

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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.