Drug trends in youth
Project manager: Deborah Olszewski
In the framework of objectives 40 and 41 of the EU Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008), a priority at the EMCDDA is to provide reliable information on the drug situation. The aim of youth surveys is to obtain comparable, reliable information on:
- the extent and pattern of consumption of different drugs among school and youth populations;
- the characteristics and behaviours of users; and
- the attitudes of different young people towards drug use.
Data presented in the schools survey tables are derived mainly from the ESPAD schools survey project and the HBSC (WHO) Schools Survey – Health behaviour in school-aged children. Participation in both surveys, each conducted every four years, has grown in each round and includes both EU and non-EU Member States with over 20 EU Member States participating in the most recent surveys together with Norway and three candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) in the ESPAD survey. In addition, annual, or biannual, national schools surveys are conducted in
Other national schools survey conducted in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and UK are largely comparable with ESPAD and HBSC surveys in terms of sampling, 15/16-year-old age groups, the questionnaire, data collection in schools, and assurance of anonymity. Overall the comparisons made between ESPAD data and other school surveys (in three countries - Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands - as well as comparisons between ESPAD and the HBSC surveys) show very similar figures. However in other countries, differences in methods for achieving prevalence estimates means that caution is necessary with regard to making direct comparisons between some of these surveys.
Other EMCDDA work on drug trends among youth complements general population surveys with data and contextual analysis from specifically targeted sources and youth groups.
In November 1997, the EMCDDA commissioned a feasibility study to examine methods for detecting, tracking and understanding emerging trends in drug use (see related documents below for an electronic summary of this study). Because of the hidden nature of illegal drug use, a time lag usually exists between the appearance of a new trend in illegal drug use and the production and dissemination of data about it. In 1999 the EMCDDA identified youth media as a potentially valuable source for monitoring emerging drug use trends among young people (see related documents below for an electronic summary of this study). Then in 2005, to coincide with International Day against Drugs in 2005, the EMCDDA published a thematic paper, Youth Media, on its web site, which reports on a study that tested the utility and validity of youth media for this purpose (see related documents below for an electronic report on this study).
See also the sections in the EMCDDA Annual reports on drug and alcohol use among young people in the EU, Norway, acceding and candidate countries.