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France country overview — a summary of the national drug situation



France country overview
A summary of the national drug situation

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Our partner in France

Since 1996, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies, OFDT) has been entrusted as an independent body with the coordination of all drug monitoring activities in France, and has acted as the national focal point. In addition, the OFDT is responsible for the evaluation of drug policies in France. Read more »

Our partner in France

Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies (French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction - OFDT)

3, Avenue du Stade de France
F-93218 Saint Denis la Plaine Cedex
Tel. +33 141627716

Head of focal point: Mr François Beck

Since 1996, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies, OFDT) has been entrusted as an independent body with the coordination of all drug monitoring activities in France, and has acted as the national focal point. In addition, the OFDT is responsible for the evaluation of drug policies in France. Since 1999, its areas of activity have included licit drugs (i.e. alcohol, tobacco, medicines) in addition to illicit drugs. The OFDT is funded by the Mission Interministérielle de Lutte Contre la Drogue et la Toxicomanie (MILDT), an interdepartmental body composed of representatives of different ministries, which is responsible for the overall coordination of activities against drugs and drug addiction in France.


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Drug use among the general population and young people

There are two general population surveys in France — the Health Barometer, which has been conducted every five years since 1992 with people aged 15–75, and the Representations, Opinions and Perceptions Regarding Psychoactive Drugs survey, which has an age range of 15–64. The latest reported survey is the Health Barometer from 2014, with a sample of 13 348 respondents aged 15–64.

General population surveys carried out in France indicate that cannabis remains the most widely used illicit substance. Lifetime prevalence rates for cannabis among people aged 15–64 increased from 22.5 % in 2000 to 40.9 % in 2014. From 2000 to 2010 last year and last month cannabis use remained stable; levels have since increased, with last year prevalence of 8.4 % in 2010 and 11.1 % in 2014, and last month prevalence of 4.6 % in 2010 and 6.6 % in 2014. Cocaine is the second most widely used illicit drug, with a lifetime prevalence of 5.4 % in 2014. Lifetime prevalence rates for cocaine have increased steadily (1.6 % in 2000; 2.6 % in 2005), and last year prevalence also increased (0.3 % in 2000; 0.6 % in 2005; 0.9 % in 2010; 1.1 % in 2014).

The prevalence of cannabis and cocaine use is much higher among young people. In 2014 lifetime prevalence for those aged 15–34 was 53.0 % % for cannabis, followed by 7.6 % for cocaine. For the same age group, last year prevalence was reported to be 22.1 % for cannabis, 2.3 % for both cocaine and ecstasy and less than 1 % for other illicit substances. Last month prevalence of cannabis use for this age group was 13.5 %.

According to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), conducted in 2011 among young people aged 15–16, some 39 % had tried marijuana or hashish at least once in their lifetime (31 % in 2007). Lifetime prevalence was 12 % for inhalant use (the same as in 2007), 4 % for cocaine (5 % in 2007), 4 % for amphetamines (the same as in 2007) and 3 % for ecstasy (4 % in 2007). The results indicated 35 % for last year prevalence of cannabis use and 24 % for last month prevalence. Although lifetime prevalence of cannabis use was the same for male and female students, male students slightly more frequently reported recent use of cannabis.

Some data exist on drug use in recreational settings indicating a high prevalence of cocaine powder use at large dance events and use of psychoactive substances, also by injection, in some targeted subpopulations.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the 'Statistical bulletin' for more information  

High-risk drug use

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use (IDU) or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. The new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

The latest national estimate of problem drug use is from 2011, using several data sources and three methods. In the study, problem drug users were defined as regular users of opioids, cocaine or amphetamines and injecting drug users, regardless of substance they use, and therefore it is similar to a new category of ‘high-risk use of opioids, amphetamines and/or cocaine’ within the new definition adopted by the national focal points and the EMCDDA. Based on the treatment multiplier method it was estimated that there were between 274 000 and 413 00 problem drug users in France in 2011. The multivariate indicator method yielded an estimated 238 000 to 360 000 problem drug users. Both these estimates are higher than those from 2006; however, the confidence intervals greatly overlap between them, suggesting no statistical significance in the difference.

Based on the 2010 general population survey data, it is estimated that 1.5 % of 15- to 64-year-olds used cannabis daily or almost daily. The data from the 2014 study indicate that an estimated 2.2 % of 15- to 64-year-olds used cannabis daily or almost daily. 

Look for High risk drug-use in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment demand

Treatment demand data is mainly collected from addiction treatment and prevention centres (CSAPA) in line with the Common Data Collection on Addictions and Treatment Protocol (RECAP). In 2013 a total of 245 outpatient centres, 17 inpatient centres and nine treatment units in prisons submitted data. Many licit or illicit drug users are treated in the general healthcare system at hospitals and by general practitioners rather than in CSAPAs, and as such are not covered by RECAP.

In 2013, according to RECAP data, a total of 59 763 clients entered treatment, of which 11 516 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. RECAP coverage is around 70 % of clients entering treatment in all addiction treatment and prevention centres. Among all treatment clients, 53 % reported cannabis as their primary drug, followed by 35 % for opioids and 6 % for cocaine. Among new treatment clients, 73 % reported cannabis as their primary drug, followed by 17 % for opioids (mainly heroin) and 5 % for cocaine.

The high number and proportion of cannabis users among treatment demand clients in France might be related to several factors, including: an increased number of people with problems related to cannabis use; the establishment some years ago of specialised consultation centres for young users, mainly cannabis users, and of CSAPAs; and a high number of referrals to treatment by the criminal justice system.

The mean age of all treatment clients in 2013 was 32 years, while new treatment clients were younger — on average 27 years old. With regard to gender distribution, 80 % of all treatment clients were male, while 84 % of new treatment clients were male. 

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-related infectious diseases

Data on drug related infectious diseases are collected from the national human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) monitoring database, and from self-reported data or biological testing among clients attending specialised treatment centres (CSAPA) or low-threshold centres (CAARUD). Studies on HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) were carried out in 2004 and in 2011 (Coquelicot data).

Since 2003, when the national HIV/AIDS monitoring database was set up, between 6 000 and 7 000 people a year have been diagnosed as HIV positive. A steady decline in the number of cases where injecting drug use was registered as the likely route of transmission has been observed during this period (207 cases in 2003; 67 cases in 2013). With regard to the number of new AIDS cases among PWID, this figure has continued to fall from the mid-1980s onwards. Although injecting drug users accounted for about 25 % of the people diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s, this fell to approximately 8 % in 2013.

A 2012 study conducted among clients of low-threshold centres (CAARUD) established the latest national prevalence estimates for drug-related infectious diseases among PWID based on self-reported status. Around 6.2 % of 1 587 PWID reported being HIV positive, which indicates a slight decline in reported seropositivity since 2006, when such a study was implemented for the first time.

According to the Coquelicot 2004 survey, which collected blood samples from drug users who had injected drugs at least once in their lifetime, the prevalence rate for HIV was 11.3 % and for HCV it was 73.8 %. About a third of these people were unaware of their HCV status. In 2011, the Coquelicot study was repeated, and indicates stable HIV prevalence rates and downward HCV prevalence rates among drug users who had injected drugs at least once in their lifetime. Additional data on the prevalence of HCV are self-reported and come from the population followed in CAARUD. Because many drug users are unaware of being infected, the reported prevalence is much lower than that derived from laboratory tests. However, there are indications that the prevalence of HCV among drug users is declining. Self-reported HCV seropositivity has declined, particularly among young drug injectors (under the age of 25) from 23 % in 2006 to 7.6 % in 2012.

The self-reported data on hepatitis B virus infection is available from a CAARUD-based survey in 2010 and 2012; however, a large proportion of respondents were unaware of their status.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Drug-induced deaths and mortality among drug users

Data on drug-induced deaths in France are collected from two sources. One is the General Mortality Registry (INSERM CépiDc). Data extraction and reporting according to the EMCDDA definitions and recommendations is limited by some ICD codification issues (information on the substances involved, in particular). This may lead to some limited underestimation of the reported figures.

The other source of information is a forensic Special Mortality Register (DRAMES), which records data from autopsies requested by public prosecutors. Reporting from this system is done on a voluntary base, the coverage is not national and the regions reporting may vary over years. Thus this system is not exhaustive and is mainly useful for the details it provides on the substances involved.

The number of drug-induced deaths showed a constant increase between 2003 and 2010, and they were mainly attributed to heroin and methadone overdoses. In 2011, based on the General Mortality Register, 340 drug-induced deaths were recorded, a reduction from the 392 cases reported in 2010. In 2011 the majority of victims were male (249 cases). The mean age of the deceased was 45.7 years (significantly higher for females than for males). Toxicological data available from the Special Mortality Register indicates that opioids substitution medications prevail, alone or in combination with other psychoactive substance. They were involved in about 60 % of deaths recorded in 2012.

The estimated drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 6.8 deaths per million, less than half the European average of 17.2 deaths per million in 2012. 

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information.  

Treatment responses

The Inter-ministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA) is responsible for defining, setting up and coordinating drug-related policy on illicit and licit drugs. Two systems are concerned with drug treatment: a specialised addiction treatment system, and a general care system comprising hospitals and GPs. Some care is also provided through a risk-reduction system. The provision of treatment to drug users falls under the responsibility of the regional and local authorities. Since 2003 drug treatment has been financed by the social security system.

Almost all of the 100 sub-regional administrative areas have at least one national specialised treatment and prevention centre for addiction (CSAPA). These centres provide two types of services: (i) outpatient care; (ii) inpatient care.  Treatment for prison inmates is provided either by outpatient care centres or by a limited number of addiction centres that only provide treatment to prison inmates. Both pharmacologically assisted and psychosocial treatments are provided in the same centres. In 2010 around 200 CSAPAs (out of more than 400) were mainly providing care to illicit drug user. But recently more and more former specialised alcohol centres are also providing treatment for illicit drug users. Additionally, a mixed type of CSAPA, treating a majority of alcohol users but also a large minority of drug users, is becoming more frequent. There are also 10 ‘drug-free’ therapeutic communities, which operate separately from CSAPAs; and about 300 services for young drug users have been established since 2005, providing early intervention and psychological care. The general addiction care system through hospitals is organised on three levels, with each new level building on services available in the previous level. First-level care manages withdrawal and organises consultations, the second level adds provision of more complex residential care and the third level expands the services to research, training and regional coordination. General practitioners (GPs) are heavily involved in the initiation and continuation of high-dosage buprenorphine (HDB) and methadone treatment, although methadone treatment can only be started within specialised centres or, since 2002, within hospitals.

Since 1995 opioid substitution treatment (OST) has constituted the main form of treatment for opioid users, and has been integrated into a total therapeutic strategy for drug dependence, including for drug users in prison. Methadone and high dosage buprenorphine (HDB) are used for OST, though HDB, introduced in 1996, is still the most widely prescribed substitution substance. In rare cases, morphine sulphate is provided as substitution. Several directives regulate the dose, place of delivery and duration of OST. In 2012 an estimated 163 000 clients were prescribed OST (66 % HDB and 34 % methadone). HDB is mainly provided by GPs, while methadone is mainly provided by CSAPAs, although the share of GPs providing methadone is increasing.

See the Treatment profile for France for additional information.  

Harm reduction responses

The Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours 2013–17 includes risk reduction objectives as part of the prevention of drug use and care of people who use drugs. Since 2004 harm reduction policies have been incorporated in public health regulations and state jurisdiction. Harm reduction is officially defined as aiming at the prevention of the transmission of infections related to drug injecting, of death from overdose, and at reducing social and psychological damage linked to drug addiction by substances classified as drugs.

Services designed to reduce risk and harm have been implemented to complement the specialised drug treatment centres (CSAPA). A network of 154 low-threshold agencies (CAARUD), which receive funding directly from the social security system, forms an important component of the response. Only 11 of 101 departments do not have a CAARUD. Harm reduction services include: the open sale of syringes in pharmacies (since 1987); fixed location needle and syringe programmes (in CAARUD) and mobiles buses at 39 sites. In addition, two methadone buses operate in order to improve access to OST. Frontline and outreach teams (in 84 sites) further improve the service provision to drug users. Syringes are also available from 283 dispensing machines. The latest available data indicates there were 4.5 million syringes sold in 2011 in pharmacies, while around 5.2 million syringes were distributed in CAARUD or by automatic dispensing machines in 2010. Harm reduction measures have been expanded in recent years, and follow drug use trends. Sniff and base kits, foil and condoms are also being made available to drug users at harm reduction sites. The government is preparing a public health law, which would include possibilities for opening experimental supervised drug facilities. This law was submitted to vote at the start of 2015, and in April 2015 a six-year trial of drug consumption rooms was approved; it is expected that facilities will be opened in three cities within the coming months.

Screening for infectious diseases (HIV and HCV) is facilitated by free anonymous screening centres (CDAG). In 2006 some 307 of these centres were operating in the community and 73 within prisons. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination is recommended for children and adolescents and is also mandatory in some specific health occupations where employees are at risk. CSAPA (specialised addiction treatment support and prevention centres) also provide free screening for HIV and HCV and free vaccination against HBV for any drug users attending a centre. Moreover, new 2014 hepatitis treatment recommendations stipulate that priority should be given to drug users with chronic HCV infection, regardless of their fibrosis score.

See the Harm reduction overview for France for additional information.  

Drug markets and drug-law offences

France is a transit area for illicit drugs smuggled to the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy and beyond. As in most European Union countries, cannabis is the most widely available and accessible of all illicit substances. Herbal cannabis is the only illicit substance produced in France, mainly by individuals at home or on a small scale, although in recent years the increasing involvement of some criminal circles has been noted. Cross-border trading of herbal cannabis from the Netherlands is also reported. Cannabis resin mainly originates from Morocco and enters France through Spain. The market for cannabis resin seems to be less dynamic due to competition from herbal cannabis (produced domestically or imported) and widespread law enforcement operations, all of which increase the costs and reduce the profitability of trafficking operations. However, cannabis resin remains the main drug trafficked in France, even if some of the traditional cannabis resin trafficking organisations are refocusing their work on more profitable operations, such as trafficking cocaine. Heroin originating in Afghanistan mainly comes via the Balkan route, and its availability has increased in recent years. There is also a significant ‘black-market’ of opioid-containing medications diverted mainly from the healthcare services. Cocaine enters France directly from South America, or recently also from West Africa via sea routes or by courier from Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. French overseas departments and territories present major issues with regard to the international fight against narcotics trafficking, as in the case of the Caribbean axis of communication. Cocaine circulates in two chemical forms: salt (hydrochloride) and base (‘crack’ or ‘freebase’) forms. Synthetic stimulants are chiefly smuggled from Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany, though only in small amounts. New psychoactive substances are offered through various segments of a web-based market.

In 2013 a total of 207 285 drug-law offenders were recorded in France. The last arrest data available date back to 2010, when 157 341 drug-law offences were recorded. Of all drug-law offences, 87.5 % were cannabis-related, 6.8 % heroin-related and 4.1 % cocaine-related.

A decreasing tendency in the amount of cannabis resin that is seized was recorded from 2004 to 2012; however, in 2013 more than 70 tonnes of cannabis resin was seized, which indicates an increase compared to 51 to 56 tonnes recorded in 2009–12. The increase is attributed to a large-scale maritime seizure that took place on the Mediterranean.  There were indications of an upward trend in herbal cannabis seized until 2011, when 5 450 kg of herbal cannabis was seized. In 2012 a total of 3 270 kg and in 2013 a total of 4 758 kg of herbal cannabis was seized A record number of 141 374 cannabis plants were seized in 2013. The amount of cocaine seized in 2012 and 2013 (both years about 5.6 tonnes) was about half that of 2011, when a record amount of 10.8 tonnes was seized. For heroin, the amount seized fell further, to 0.57 tonnes, which is below the levels reported since 2005. Record amounts of ecstasy (414 800 tablets) were seized in 2013. The amount of amphetamines seized in 2013 was higher than in 2011, while the amount of seized methamphetamine seized in 2013 remained at the level of 2012, and was lower than in 2011. 

Look for Drug law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data.  

National drug laws

Use or possession of illicit drugs is a criminal offence in France. The law itself does not distinguish between possession for personal use or for trafficking, nor by type of substance. However, the prosecutor will opt for a charge relating to use or trafficking that is based on the quantity of the drug found and the context of the case. Based on the principle of the appropriateness of proceedings, s/he may decide to take legal action against the offender, to simply close the case or to propose other measures as an alternative to prosecution. An offender charged with personal use faces a maximum prison sentence of one year and a fine of up to EUR 3 750, though prosecution may be waived or a simplified procedure of a fine of up to EUR 1 875 can be ordered in minor cases. The possible sentence increases to five years and a fine of EUR 7 500 if endangering transport or if the offence is committed by a public servant on duty. A Directive of 9 May 2008 defined a new ‘rapid and graduated’ policy. Users in simple cases may receive a caution, but this should usually be accompanied by a request for a compulsory drug awareness course, introduced in March 2007, for which the non-addicted offender may have to pay up to EUR 450. Addicts would continue to receive the therapeutic injunction directing them to treatment. Users in aggravating circumstances, such as recidivists, might be imprisoned. In 2012 a Directive establishing a criminal policy strategy for drug crimes reiterated that, when sentencing, courts should take account of factors suggesting a simple use or drug addiction, the principle of proportionality with respect to the seriousness of the alleged offence, calls for systematic penal responses and increasingly effective judicial measures. The application of educational and health measures is prioritised for simple drug-law crimes and for minors.

Drug supply is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years, or up to life in prison if offences are particularly serious, and a fine of up to EUR 7 600 000.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information.  

National drug strategy

The current overarching general principles of French drug policy were stated in a mission letter on 17 October 2012. The Government stated its vision for the actions to be taken in this policy area as being of a global and integrated nature, entrusting responsibility for their implementation to the chairperson of the Inter-ministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA). The MILDECA reports to the prime minister and is in charge of developing the national strategies and action plans and coordinating their implementation. Following a period of policy development, France’s new Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours 2013–17 was launched on 19 September 2013. It takes a comprehensive and global approach towards illicit and licit drugs (narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, psychotropic medicines and new synthetic products) and other forms of addictive behaviours (gambling, gaming, doping).

The current strategy is built on an understanding of addictions as multidimensional problems that emerge from the interaction of complex factors, including the biological, psychological, family, socio-economic and environmental status and contexts of individuals. The 2013–17 strategy is based around three main priorities:

  • To base public action on observation, research and evaluation.

  • To take the most vulnerable populations into consideration to reduce risks and health and social harm.

  • To reinforce safety, tranquillity and public health, both locally and internationally, by fighting drug trafficking and all forms of criminality related to psychoactive substance use.

These priorities are addressed across five areas of action, or pillars, that structure the Action Plan: (i) prevention, care and risk reduction; (ii) stepping up the fight against trafficking; (iii) improving the application of the law; (iv) basing policies for combating drugs and addictive behaviours on research and training; (v) reinforcing coordination at national and international levels. Through these domains of activity, the new strategy addresses, to differing extents, illicit drug use, alcohol, tobacco, psychotropic medications and other addictive behaviours (doping, gambling, gaming). The Government also adopted a more detailed Actions Plan in 2013 that covers the first period of implementation of the national strategy (2013–15). This first Action Plan set specific objectives and actions over this period, allocated budget, identified key stakeholders, and detailed the planned timeline and expected outcomes for delivering the strategy. 


Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

An Inter-ministerial Committee on Drugs prepares government decisions in all domains related to the drug problem. It is also responsible for approving the national strategies and action plans on drugs and addictions. The Committee is under the authority of the Prime Minister and is composed of ministers and state secretaries.

The MILDECA is tasked with the organisation and coordination of France’s policies against drugs and addictive behaviours. Reporting to the Prime Minister, it focuses on a range of areas, including prevention, treatment, reintegration, law enforcement, research and monitoring, and training for those involved in demand or supply reduction activities. The MILDECA also prepares, coordinates and partly implements the decisions of the Inter-ministerial Committee, and developed the Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours 2013–17 at the Prime Minister’s request. Throughout France and its territories there are also MILDECA territorial representatives (chefs de projet) who are responsible for implementing the drug policy.

Decree no. 2014-322 of 11 March 2014 confirms the MILDECA’s field of activity, enlarging its mandate to addictive behaviours (tobacco, alcohol and addiction without substances). It refers to MILDECA coordination competencies in the field of supply and demand reduction and mentions its international action.

Public expenditure

The total drug-related public social costs were estimated on two occasions, for 1996 and 2003 (1,2). More recently, two other studies have focused on drug-related public expenditure (3,4,5). Since 2008 the total expenditure (6) of the central government and social security is presented annually in a general document submitted to the Parliament (7).

The 2013–15 Action Plan has an associated budget. It provides a planned budget of EUR 58 843 000. The allocation by type of action shows that most of the planned spending is allocated to treatment (62 % over the period 2013–15), followed by prevention and communication (15 % of the total labelled expenditure (1,2)), international cooperation (9 %), research (5 %) and anti-trafficking actions (5 % of the total).

In 2010 total drug-related expenditure represented 0.08 % of gross domestic product (GDP) (approximately EUR 1.5 billion), with 45 % of the total for supply reduction activities and 53 % for demand reduction initiatives.

Available data suggest total drug-related expenditure grew at a slower pace between 2008 and 2010, following the national fiscal consolidation trend registered in France. Taking into account the available forecasts, the planned labelled drug expenditure for the period 2013–15 provides for a marked increase in the public expenditure allocated to drug initiatives.

In 2015, national authorities will perform a new estimate of the social costs of drugs in France.

Table 1: Action Plan 2013–15
  Expenditure (thousand Euro) % of total
Planned expenditure    
Support and treatment 36 210 000 62
Prevention 8 711 300 15
International cooperation 5 580 000 9
Research 4 298 000 7
Law enforcement 3 056 000 5
Training 987 700 2
Total 58 843 000 100
% of GDP (assuming GDP = 2013 and budget was only spent in 2014–15)   0.0014 %

Drug-related research

In France, the Ministry of Research and Higher Education (MESR) designs, coordinates and implements national policy on research and innovation. Two primary academic organisations, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), cover a wide range of research areas, from neurosciences, through public health and clinical research to social sciences. The French National Focal Point (OFDT) is the main body involved in data collection, studies and network development. It collaborates extensively with national and European research on drugs, and drug addictions and dissemination are also part of its mandate, together with publishing in national and international scientific journals, and promoting the use of research results in practice and policymaking. Recent drug-related studies mentioned in the 2014 French National report mainly focused on aspects related to responses to the drug situation, consequences of drug use, supply and markets, and the prevalence, incidence and patterns of drug use. Studies on determinants of drug use and on methodological issues were also reported.

The Inter-ministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA) is the central structure responsible to the Prime Minister for coordinating governmental action in the drugs field. Part of its role is to promote and fund drug-related research. In line with the Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours 2013–17, the MILDECA supports calls for proposals and extended collaboration with research organisations/universities and with the French Research Agency (ANR). It also promotes clinical research networks and dissemination initiatives towards the scientific community and policymakers. The Ministry of Research together with the MILDECA also supports the ERANID research network, which includes most of the major academic research centres (INSERM, CNRS) and the national monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction (OFDT).

See Drug-related research for more detailed information. 

Key national figures and statistics

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers, in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2012.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

Key figures
  Year   EU (28 countries) Source
Population  2014 65 835 579
 506 824 509 ep
Population by age classes 15–24  2014  11.9 % p 11.3 % bep
25–49  32.3 % p 34.7 % bep
50–64  19.3 % p
19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2013 107 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2012 34.2 % p 29.5 % p Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2014 10.3 % 10.2 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2014

24.1 %

22.2 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2013 119.5  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2013
At risk of poverty rate 5  2013 13.7 16.6 %  SILC

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max. Average Rank Reporting Countries
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) :   : 0.2 10.7      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   34.7% 6% 93%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   16.9% 2% 81%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2013   11.3% 6% 42%   5 24
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2013   EUR 25 - EUR 45 EUR 25 EUR 158      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2010   2.3% 0% 4% 2%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2010   1.1% 0% 2% 1% 22 26
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   6.2% 0% 39%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   5.2% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2013   55.7% 20% 75%   21 27
Price per gram (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 65 EUR 47 EUR 103   13 24
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2010   0.7% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2010   0.3% 0% 1% 1% 7 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.4% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.3% 0% 22%      
Purity (%) 2013   19.2% 5% 71%   18 25
Price per gram (EUR) :   : EUR 8 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   3.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2010   2.3% 0% 3% 1%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2010   0.9% 0% 2% 1% 20 25
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.4% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.5% 0% 4%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2013   83 mg 26 mg 144 mg   11 23
Price per tablet (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 8 EUR 3 EUR 24   11 19
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   39.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2010   22.1% 0% 22% 12%    
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2010   11.1% 0% 11.1% 6% 27 27
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   52.5% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   73.4% 5% 80%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2013   12.7% 2% 13%   21 22
Potency — resin (%) 2013   17.6% 3% 22%   17 20
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2013 1 EUR 9 EUR 4 EUR 25   9 19
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2013   EUR 6 EUR 3 EUR 21   4 21
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2011   : 2.0 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) :   : 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (rate/million) 2013 2 1.0 0.0 54.5      
HIV prevalence (%) 2012   6.2% 0% 49%      
HCV prevalence (%) :   : 14% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2011   5.2 1.5 84.1      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2010   5 278 005 124 406 9 457 256      
Clients in substitution treatment 2012   163 000 180 172 513      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2013   59 763 289 101 753      
New clients 2013   11 516 19 35 229      
All clients with known primary drug 2013   44 659 287 99 186      
New clients with known primary drug 2013   10 534 19 34 524      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2013   207 285 429 426 707      
Offences for use/possession 2013   170 337 58 397 713      


See the explanatory notes for further information on the methods and definitions.

Only the most recent data are available for each key statistic. Data before 2006 were excluded.

1 - Value is the median and not the mean.

2 - Case-based data reported through TESSy are not exhaustive, because of reporting delays (cases reported several months or several years after the diagnosis) but also because of underreporting (cases that are diagnosed but never reported). The most recent estimates of underreporting are 41% in 2007-2009 for AIDS and 29% in 2013 for HIV in France. To assess the real the number of HIV and AIDS diagnoses in France it is essential to use adjusted data, which take into account both reporting delays (for 2012-2013) and underreporting (for 2003-2013). Adjusting for these factors, the estimated number of new HIV diagnoses in 2013 is 6220 95%CI [5759-6682] and estimated number of new AIDS diagnoses is 1212 95% CI [1092-1333].

Additional sources of national information

In addition to the information provided above, you might find the following resources useful sources of national data.


Page last updated: Tuesday, 07 July 2015