European Drug Report 2017

Drug use prevalence and trends

Drug use in Europe now encompasses a wider range of substances than in the past. Among drug users, polydrug consumption is common and individual patterns of use range from experimental to habitual and dependent consumption. Use of all drugs is generally higher among males, and this difference is often accentuated for more intensive or regular patterns of use. The prevalence of cannabis use is about five times that of other substances. While the use of heroin and other opioids remains relatively rare, these continue to be the drugs most commonly associated with the more harmful forms of use including injecting drug use.

Monitoring drug use

The EMCDDA collects and maintains datasets that cover drug use and patterns of use in Europe. Surveys undertaken among school students and the general population can provide an overview of the prevalence of experimental and recreational drug use. These survey results can be complemented by community level analyses of drug residues in municipal wastewater, carried out in cities across Europe.

Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on those entering specialised drug treatment systems, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform understanding on the nature and trends in high-risk drug use.

Full data sets and methodological notes can be found in the online Statistical Bulletin.