Synthetic drugs are produced mainly in North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania but also in other regions. MDMA is produced mainly in Europe and methamphetamine in the United States of America; however, as with amphetamine, it is difficult to assess the relative volumes produced with any certainty. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the MDMA seized in the United States is primarily manufactured in clandestine laboratories in Europe, predominantly the Netherlands and Belgium, but another significant source is Canada (USDEA, 2013). There have been occasional seizures of methamphetamine laboratories in West Africa, which may be significant from a European perspective (UNODC, 2013e).
In global terms, much more methamphetamine is seized annually than amphetamine, while ecstasy () is seized in even smaller quantities (UNODC, 2015a). In contrast, in Europe sizeable amounts of amphetamine and MDMA are seized, but only relatively small accounts of methamphetamine.
The latest UNODC estimates suggest that there were between 14 million and 54 million users of amphetamines () worldwide in 2013, with prevalence of use in Oceania, Central America and North being higher than the global average (UNODC, 2015a). Recent estimates of prevalence for Africa and Asia are not generally available, but experts from these countries consider that the use of amphetamines is increasing (UNODC, 2014b) and Nigeria reported in 2012 that lifetime prevalence of use for amphetamine and methamphetamine was higher than most European countries (UNODC, 2014e).
The most recent estimate suggests that there were about 18.8 million users of ecstasy worldwide in 2013, although data on use are sparse in many countries. The main MDMA markets appear to be Europe, North America and Oceania. However, recent seizure data and expert perceptions suggest that a regional shift may be occurring, with markets emerging in South-East Asia (UNODC, 2015a). Furthermore, South America is an emerging market for MDMA; seizures more than tripled in the period 2008–12 and there are reports of European OCGs exchanging MDMA for cocaine in Brazil (UNODC, 2014b; EMCDDA, 2016b).
(1) EU estimates are computed from national estimates weighted by the population of the relevant age group in each country. They are based on surveys conducted between 2004 and 2014/15 and therefore do not refer to a single year.
(2) Drug users entering treatment for amphetamine or methamphetamine problems. Units coverage may vary across countries. Trend data are given for amphetamine and methamphetamine combined as separated data are only available for the last 2 years.
(3) The 2014 figures should be considered as estimates; where not available, most recent data were used in place of 2014 data, except for the number of seizures for the Netherlands, France and Poland where no recent data is available so they are not included.
(4) IQR: interquartile range, or range of the middle half of the reported data.
Data presented are for the EU unless stated otherwise. All trend lines shown in this table cover a 5-year period, 2010–14. All trends reflect absolute numbers except for trends on price and on potency which reflect averages of mean values. In the case of treatment, price and purity, trends are based only on data from those EU countries that have consistently submitted data since 2010.
Source: EMCDDA/Reitox national focal points.
(24) The term ‘ecstasy’ includes MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine), MDMA and other chemically related substances. It is normally used as a generic term for these substances when the specific molecule is not known.
(25) When the UNODC report refers to amphetamines in the plural, it means amphetamine, methamphetamine and related substances such as fenethylline, methylphenidate, cathinone, etc., but not ecstasy or its relatives. The two groups together — amphetamines and the ecstasy family — are sometimes referred to as amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).