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Please note that the information on this page is based on the EMCDDA Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Most statistical data relate to the year 2008 (or the last year available).

Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe
Amphetamines, ecstasy and hallucinogenic substances

Published: 10 November 2010


Amphetamines (a generic term that includes both amphetamine and methamphetamine) and ecstasy are among the most commonly used illicit drugs in Europe. In terms of the absolute numbers, cocaine use may be higher, but its geographic concentration means that in many countries, after cannabis, the second most commonly used illicit substance is either ecstasy or amphetamines. Moreover, in some countries, use of amphetamines constitutes an important part of the drug problem, accounting for a substantial proportion of those in need of treatment.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine are central nervous system stimulants. Of the two drugs, amphetamine is by far the more commonly available in Europe, whereas significant methamphetamine use appeared to be restricted to the Czech Republic and Slovakia until recently, with some countries in the north of Europe now reporting the increased presence of this drug on their amphetamines markets.

Ecstasy refers to synthetic substances that are chemically related to amphetamines, but which differ to some extent in their effects. The best-known member of the ecstasy group of drugs is 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), but other analogues are also sometimes found in ecstasy tablets (MDA, MDEA). Ecstasy use was virtually unknown in Europe before the late 1980s, but increased rapidly during the 1990s. The drug’s popularity has historically been linked with the dance-music scene and, in general, synthetic drug use is associated with particular cultural sub-groups or social settings and increasingly with heavy episodic use of alcohol.

The most widely known synthetic hallucinogenic drug in Europe is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), consumption of which has been low and somewhat stable for a considerable time. In recent years, there appears to have been a growing interest among young people in naturally occurring hallucinogens such as those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Friday, 15 October 2010