Expert meeting on the epidemiological indicator Patterns and trends in drug use (GPS) 2019

The 2019 annual expert meeting on the EMCDDA epidemiological indicator ‘Prevalence and patterns of drug use among the general population’ (often referred to as the 'General population surveys indicator') took place on 28 and 29 May at the EMCDDA in Lisbon.

The meeting brought together experts from almost all EU Member States and Norway, Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Switzerland, USA and Uzbekistan.

These regular meetings on the indicator change their focus from year to year. This year particular attention was given to methodological developments on the indicator, the way surveys can be used to measure different topics other than illicit drugs, the link between drug use surveys and other drug-related monitoring tools. In addition, targeted surveys in drug use served as a platform for discussion on drug use issues more broadly.

Meeting Topics

The meeting objectives were:

  • Provide an overview of progress and results for 2018.
  • Exchange information between countries and international projects.
  • Promote methodological discussion about ways to progress measuring and describing substance use as well as ways to analyse and interpret trends.
  • Explore ways to bridge the gap between surveys, policy and responses.


Specific topics discussed at the meeting:

  • Joint session with the PDU network, looking at the estimation of the prevalence and pattern of stimulant use using surveys (GPS indicator), indirect methods (PDU indicator) and complementary methods (wastewater, web-survey, syringe residues)
  • Monitoring drug use in recreational settings
  • European Web Survey on Drugs
  • Recent studies measuring drug use


Parallel sessions

  • Use of ‘New Psychoactive Substances’ measured in surveys
  • Brainstorm on the mid-term strategy for the ‘Prevalence and patterns of drug use’ indicator
  • Misuse of medicines
  • Brainstorm on how to cross validate and interpret inconsistencies in GPS, Web surveys, wastewater data
  • Workshop to draft a scientific article presenting the results of the GPS of the Balkan region