France country overview

France country overview

Map of France

About NFP: 

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. The OFDT is also responsible for the evaluation of drug policies in France. Since 1999 its areas of activity have included licit drugs (alcohol, tobacco and medicines) in addition to illicit drugs. The OFDT is mainly funded by the Inter-ministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les drogues et les conduites addictives), 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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Last updated: Thursday, May 26, 2016

Drug use among the general population and young people

Content for prevalence: 

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 an overall sample of 15 635 respondents including 13 488 people aged 15–64.

Data on drug use among young people are also provided by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, which have been collected every four years since 1999 for ESPAD (the latest in 2015) and since 2002 for HBSC. ESPAD collects data on substance use among 15- to 16-year-old students and HBSC surveys students aged 11, 13 and 15.

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 has also increased (0.3 % in 2000; 0.6 % in 2005; 0.9 % in 2010; 1.1 % in 2014). The last year prevalence rate for ecstasy is also on the rise (0.3 % in 2010; 0.9 % 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 MDMA/ecstasy and less than 1 % for other illicit substances. Last month prevalence of cannabis use for this age group was 13.5 %.

The increase in cannabis use since 2010 should be viewed in the context of a marked increase in cannabis supply, particularly home cultivation and local production of herbal cannabis, while the cannabis resin market remains very dynamic. The increase in cocaine use prevalence in the general population since 2000 is attributed to the diffusion of the substance use outside the specific populations and also a greater availability.

According to ESPAD, conducted in 2011 among students aged 15–16, some 39 % had tried marijuana or hashish at least once in their lifetime (33 % 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. The latest HBSC survey (2013–14) indicated that 29 % of 15-year-old boys and 26 % of girls of the same age had used cannabis in their lifetime.

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

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


Content for prevention: 

Drug use prevention policy in France is coordinated at the central level by the Inter-ministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA). The Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior are the main central stakeholders in the field of prevention. The most recent Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours, covering 2013–17, was endorsed by the Government in September 2013. Two more detailed Action Plans have also been adopted. The first one covered the period 2013–15 and the most recent one is for 2016–17.

The MILDECA provides funding to implement the national prevention priorities at the local level (regions, local communities), which are coordinated by the MILDECA territorial representatives. Decentralised credits for prevention activities are allocated by these MILDECA territorial representatives (chefs de projet) or by regional health authorities, while the French national health insurance system also provides funding for prevention. At the local level, prevention activities are implemented by a large number of professionals (school communities, non-governmental organisations, police/gendarmerie officers, etc.). There is no national prevention monitoring system in France and therefore information about the scope and coverage of prevention activities remains limited. However, monitoring and evaluation are clearly identified as priorities in the Government Plan 2013–17. An inter-ministerial commission for the prevention of addictive behaviours (CIPCA) was launched in 2014. It is chaired by the MILDECA and aims to promote evidence-based prevention programmes.

In accordance with the Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours, the French prevention policy embraces all psychoactive substances, both illicit and licit (narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, psychotropic medicines and new synthetic products), and other forms of addiction (gambling, gaming, doping), and aims to prevent experimentation or delay it, or prevent and limit use or abuse of these substances and experiences.

The current Government anti-drug plan gives priority to preventing drug use among: young people, especially those in contact with a juvenile court system; pregnant women and female drug-users; and people that are remote from the care system, whether geographically or socially.

Environmental strategies on alcohol and tobacco use are well developed and have substantial political support.

Universal prevention is mostly carried out in secondary schools, with the school community involved in the coordination and implementation of prevention activities and external actors contributing as required (non-governmental organisations and police/gendarmerie officers). In 2008 the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education (INPES) issued best practice guidelines for addressing health and risky behaviours in school settings. Their use is strongly encouraged, but is not compulsory. The main focus of the school-based prevention activities, within the area of health education, is to develop students’ individual and social skills to resist drug use. Some examples include life skills prevention programmes in secondary schools. Drug prevention is also recommended for the secondary and higher educational settings under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture. The prevention of drug, alcohol or psychotropic use in the workplace, incorporating the use of screening for substances abuse, has been a priority for occupational physicians since 2012. Prevention also engages the staff representative bodies as part of the legal obligation to ensure employee safety and protect employee health. Implementation varies across companies and services. Community-based prevention is carried out in youth counselling centres. Educators at recreational centres for children and teenagers are trained to implement awareness-raising actions on addictive behaviours and risky sexual practices.

Selective prevention is mainly the responsibility of specialised non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Law enforcement services rarely deliver prevention activities.

As for indicated prevention, since 2005 some 540 youth addiction outpatient clinics (CJCs) have been opened throughout France to carry out ‘early screening and intervention’. A requirement to reinforce the CJC system, in particular through training professionals, is specified in the current Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours.

See the Prevention profile for France for more information. 

Problem drug use

Content for problem drug use: 

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use 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 2013/14, using a capture–recapture methodology from a single list, and is based on data collected by the common data collection or compendium on addictions and treatments (RECAP) as part of the treatment demand indicator of all inpatient treatment centres over a two-years period. In the study, problem drug users were defined as regular users of opioids, cocaine or amphetamines and injecting drug users, regardless of which substance they used, and therefore it is similar to the 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. It was estimated that in 2013 the number of problem drug users in France reached almost 280 000 (95 % confidence interval (CI): 201 000–400 000), which translates to 6.86 problem drug users per 1 000 people aged 15–64 (95 % CI: 4.95–9.84). This estimate is higher than the one obtained by the police multiplier method using police data in 2011 of 5.5 problem drug users per 1 000 people aged 15–64 (95 % CI: 4.3–6.6), and lower than the estimate based on the treatment data in the same year of 7.3 problem drug users per 1 000 people aged 15–64 (95 % CI: 5.8–8.8).

Based on the 2014 general population survey data, it is estimated that 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

Content for treatment demand: 

Treatment demand data is mainly collected from addiction treatment and prevention centres (CSAPA) in line with the RECAP. Data are collected on individual clients and on a continuous basis, with the aim of tracking clients’ characteristics and patterns on drug use along the treatment journey. Those data are in line with the EMCDDA treatment demand indicator (TDI) protocol version 3.0. In addition to RECAP, a multicentre study is conducted every year in October to monitor more specifically the use and misuse of psychotropic medicines, including opioid substitution treatment.

In 2014 a total of 245 outpatient centres, 14 inpatient centres and eight 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 the RECAP.

In 2014, according to RECAP data, a total of 53 299 clients entered treatment, of which 10 285 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 with a known primary substance, 24 003 (58 %) reported cannabis as their primary drug, followed by 12 634 (31 %) for opioids and 2 530 (6 %) for cocaine. Among new treatment clients with a known primary substance, 6 897 (77 %) reported cannabis as their primary drug, followed by 1 240 (14 %) for opioids (mainly heroin) and 489 (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 (CJC), mainly cannabis users, and of CSAPAs; and a high number of referrals to treatment by the criminal justice system.

It is important to highlight that most opioid users enter treatment and are monitored in treatment by general practitioners, and these are not included in the data provided to the EMCDDA.

The mean age of all treatment clients in 2014 was 31, while new treatment clients were younger with an average age of 26. With regard to gender distribution, 80 % of all treatment clients were male, while 82 % of new treatment clients were male. 

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

Drug-related infectious diseases

Content for drug-related infectious diseases: 

Data on drug related infectious diseases are collected from the national human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/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 (data from the Coquelicot study).

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 .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 5 % in 2014.

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 was 11.3 % for HIV and 73.8 % for HCV. About a third of these people were unaware of their HCV status. In 2011 the Coquelicot study was repeated, and indicated stable HIV prevalence rates (13.3 %) and declining HCV prevalence rates among drug users who had injected drugs at least once in their lifetime (63.8 %). 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; a large proportion of the respondents were unaware of their status.

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

Drug-induced deaths and mortality

Content for drug-induced deaths: 

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 – T codes, 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 the 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, when a total of 392 deaths were reported, and they were mainly attributed to heroin and methadone overdoses. In 2012, based on the General Mortality Register, 264 drug-induced deaths were recorded, a reduction from the 340 cases reported in 2011. In 2012 the majority of victims were male (186 cases). The mean age of the deceased was 44.8. Toxicological data available from the Special Mortality Register indicates that opioid substitution medications were the most common, alone or in combination with other psychoactive substances, while their share decreased in 2013 when compared to 2012 data. They were involved in about 54 % of deaths recorded in 2013.

The estimated drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 5.4 deaths per million in 2012 (according to the most recent data available from the French mortality register), less than the most recent European average of 19.2 deaths per million in 2012. However, the data for France are likely to be underestimated.

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

Treatment responses

Content for 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 general practitioners (GPs). Some care is also provided through a risk-reduction system. The provision of treatment to drug users is 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 both outpatient and 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 2014 there were 410 CSAPA, but some of them mostly provide care to alcohol consumers and rarely to illicit drug user. There are also eight ‘drug-free’ therapeutic communities, which operate separately from CSAPAs; and more than 500 services for young drug users have been established since 2005, providing early intervention and psychological care on an outpatient basis. 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. GPs are heavily involved in the initiation and continuation of high-dosage buprenorphine (HDB) and methadone treatment, although methadone treatment can only be started in specialised centres or, since 2002, in hospitals. However, there is currently an ongoing debate about this restriction.

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 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. OST is mainly prescribed in a primary setting by GPs, and is usually dispensed in community pharmacies. In 2014 an estimated 161 388 clients were prescribed OST (104 975 HDB and 59 467 on methadone).

See the Treatment profile for France for additional information. 

Harm reduction responses

Content for harm reduction responses: 

The Government Plan for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours 2013–17 includes risk reduction objectives targeting vulnerable population who use drugs. In accordance with that provisioned in the public health law of 2004, harm reduction policy aims to protect drug users from becoming infected, in particular, with a virus transmitted by drug injecting but also to prevent them from taking a fatal overdose of drugs. Moreover, the French Law states other main priorities, such as providing referral to the care system and contributing to improving health among drug users and facilitating social reintegration.

Services designed to reduce risk and harm have been implemented to complement the specialised drug treatment centres (CSAPA). A network of 145 low-threshold agencies (CAARUD), which mainly receive funding directly from the social security system, forms an important component of the response. Only 10 of 101 departments do not have a CAARUD; however, all the French regions are covered by at least one CAARUD. Harm reduction services in CAARUDs include needle and syringe programmes. Syringes can also be purchased in pharmacies (since 1987) and from dispensing machines. The latest available data indicate there were 4.5 million syringes sold in pharmacies in 2011, while around 6.8 million syringes were distributed without charge in CAARUDs in 2014 (by the low-threshold team directly, by automatic dispensing machines or through the pharmacies’ partners). 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 has recently adopted a new public health law, which would include the possibility of 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 in second half of 2016.

Screening for infectious diseases (HIV and HCV) is facilitated by free anonymous screening centres (CDAG). In 2011 some 344 of these centres were operating in the community and about a hundred within prisons. In 2016 these centres will merge with the centres on sexually transmitted diseases. 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

Content for Drug markets and drug-law offences: 

France is a transit area for illicit drugs smuggled to the neighbouring countries. However, due to its strong purchasing power, France is also a country where there are significant levels of use of illicit drugs, making it a strategic market for drug traffickers. 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, while some organised groups increasingly use Libya as a transit country. The market for cannabis resin has to deal with tough 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. Nevertheless, cannabis resin produced in Afghanistan, and herbal cannabis from Albania, also occasionally emerge on the French market. 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. Cocaine, primarily from Colombia, passes from the south via Spain and the north via the Netherlands and Belgium before entering France. However, French overseas departments and territories are playing an increasing role in trafficking cocaine directly to France. Synthetic stimulants are chiefly smuggled from Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany, though only in small amounts. France is also a transit country for dealers of synthetic stimulants particularly targeting the United Kingdom and Spain. Heroin originating in Afghanistan mainly comes via the Balkan route. There is also a significant ‘black market’ of opioid-containing medications diverted mainly from the healthcare services. New psychoactive substances are offered through various segments of an internet-based market.

In 2014 a total of 216 110 drug-law offences involving 213 976 offenders were recorded in France, according to data from the Central Office for the Repression of Drug-Related Offences (OCRTIS). The last arrest data available date back to 2010, when approximately 140 000 drug-law offences were recorded (1). Of all those offences, almost 90 % were cannabis-related, 5 % heroin-related and 3 % cocaine-related.

In 2014 a total of 36 917 kg of cannabis resin was seized in France, which is almost half of the amount seized in 2013. This decline is attributed mainly to changing trafficking routes and modes, which complicate the work of law enforcement agencies. In contrast to resin, in 2014 record amounts of 10 073 kg of herbal cannabis and 158 592 cannabis plants were seized, indicating that the market is going through a major upheaval. Moreover, there is evidence of increased potency of cannabis products in recent years. The amount of cocaine seized in 2012 and 2013 (for both years about 5.6 tonnes) was about half that of 2011, when a record amount of 10.8 tonnes was seized. In 2014 a total of 6.9 tonnes of the substance were seized. For heroin, the amount seized in 2014 was 990 kg, which is the highest figure since 2010. In 2014 a record amount of MDMA/ecstasy (940 389 tablets) was seized in France for the second year in a row, indicating a major resurgence of the substance, mainly in recreational settings. The quantity of amphetamines seized in 2014 was lower than in 2013, while the amount of methamphetamine seized in 2014 almost tripled when compared to 2013 and reached a record amount of 61.2 kg.

(1) Etat 4001, SSMSI and SDRES-DCPJ, Ministry of Interior

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

National drug laws

Content for 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, simply close the case or 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 while 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 to attend 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

Content for 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 to 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 that structure the strategy: (i) promoting 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. The strategy is supported by two consecutive Action Plans, covering the years 2013–15 and 2016–17. Both Action Plans set specific objectives and actions over these periods, identified key stakeholders, and detailed the planned timeline and expected outcomes for delivering the strategy. 

Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

Content for 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

Content for Public expenditure: 

The total drug-related public social costs have been estimated for 1996 and 2003 (1). A new estimate of the social cost of drugs, alcohol and tobacco was published in 2015 (2).

Other studies have focused on drug-related public expenditure (3, 4,5). Since 2008 the total expenditure (6) of central government and social security has been presented annually in a general document submitted to the Parliament (7).

In 2013 total drug-related expenditure represented 0.1 % of gross domestic product (approximately EUR 2 billion), with 44.6 % of the total for health activities and social protection, 28.6 % for public order and safety, 13.4 % for education and the rest for drug-related defence initiatives and general public services.

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. Since then, drug-related expenditure has increased at a growing pace.

Table 1: Total drug-related public expenditures, 2013.

COFOG classification (a)

Labelled expenditure (EUR)


Unlabelled expenditure (EUR)


Total expenditure (EUR)

% of total (b)

General public services

27 495 973




27 495 973


Public order and safety

584 855 274


2 672 979


587 528 253


Social protection



7 050 000


7 050 000



650 977 167


259 065 958


910 043 125



6 028 986


275 662 666


275 662 666



214 827 266




214 827 266



1 484 184 666


544 451 603


2 056 132 242


% of total expenditure (b)







% of GDP (b)







(a) According to the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) Eurostat data sources: (general) and

(b) EMCDDA estimations.


(1) P. Kopp and P. Fenoglio (2004), ‘Coût et bénéfices économique des drogues’, OFDT, 121 p. [] ; and P. Kopp and P. Fenoglio (2006), ‘Le coût social des drogues en 2003. Les dépenses publiques dans le cadre de la lutte contre les drogues en France en 2003’, OFDT, 57 p. []

(2) P. Kopp (2015) ‘Le coût social des drogues en France’, OFDT, 10 Septembre 2015, St Denis.

(3) C. Ben Lakhdar (2007), ‘Public expenditure attributable to illegal drugs in France in 2005’, National report 2007 to the EMCDDA, OFDT, pp.78–87. []

(4) C. Díaz Gómez (2012) ‘Recent trends in drug-related public expenditure and drug-related services in France’, National report 2012 to the EMCDDA, OFDT, p.193–215 []

(5)C. Díaz Gómez (2013), ‘Estimation des dépenses publiques en matière de lutte contre les drogues’, Drogues et addictions, données essentielles, OFDT, p.148–152. []

(6) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.

(7) This document describes, for each ministry, the nature of the programme implemented and the budget dedicated to the prevention and fight against drugs. [

Drug-related research

Content for 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 drug-related research teams. Dissemination of data and research results 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.

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 OFDT.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information. 

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

Content for Data sheet: 

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max.      
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2013-14   5.19 0.2 10.7      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   30.5% 4% 90%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   13.8% 2% 89%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2014   14.9% 7% 52%      
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2012   EUR 43 EUR 23 EUR 140      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2014   2.4% 0% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2014   1.1% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   6.1% 0% 38%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   5.4% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2014   51.9% 20% 64%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2012   EUR 71 EUR 47 EUR 107      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   4.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2014   0.7% 0% 3%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2014   0.3% 0% 1%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.6% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.7% 0% 75%      
Purity (%) 2014   29.9% 1% 49%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2007   EUR 25 EUR 3 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   3.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2014   2.3% 0% 6%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2014   0.9% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.4% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.6% 0% 2%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2014   118 mg 27 mg 131 mg      
Price per tablet (EUR) 2012   EUR 11 EUR 4 EUR 16      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   39.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2014   22.1% 0% 24%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2014   11.1% 0% 11%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   58.0% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   76.7% 7% 77%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2014   13.0% 3% 15%      
Potency — resin (%) 2014   20.7% 3% 29%      
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2012   EUR 10 EUR 3 EUR 23      
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2012   EUR 7 EUR 3 EUR 22      
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2013-14   6.86 2.7 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) :   : 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (cases / million) 2014   1.0 0.0 50.9      
HIV prevalence (%) 2011-12   6.2% 0% 31%      
HCV prevalence (%) :   : 15% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2014   5.4 2.4 113.2      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2010   5 278 005 382 7 199 660      
Clients in substitution treatment 2014   161 388 178 161 388      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2014   53 299 271 100 456      
New clients 2014   10 285 28 35 007      
All clients with known primary drug 2014   41 362 271 97 068      
New clients with known primary drug 2014   8 987 28 34 088      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2014   216 110 537 282 177      
Offences for use/possession 2014   176 652 13 398 422      

Key national figures and statistics

Content for Key national figures and statistics: 

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

: Not available.

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, 2014.

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 65 889 148  506 944 075 bep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014  11.9 % p 11.3 % bep Eurostat
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  2014 107 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2013 33.7 % p : Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2015 10.4 % 9.4 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2015

24.7 %

20.3 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2014 118.1  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2014.1
At risk of poverty rate 5  2014 13.3 17.2 %  SILC

Contact information for our focal point

Address and contact: 

Observatoire français des drogues et des toxicomanies (French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction)

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

Head of national focal point: Mr François Beck

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