Slovenia Country Drug Report 2018

Drug use

Prevalence and trends

According to the 2011-12 general population survey, cannabis was the most commonly used drug among the adult population aged 15-64 years in Slovenia. The use of other illicit substances was less common. Illicit drug use is concentrated among younger age groups and, in particular, among those aged 15-24 years. Use of illicit drugs is generally higher among males than females.

Less than 1 % of Slovenian adults reported having ever used a new psychoactive substance (NPS). Nevertheless, data from other sources, including a recent web-based survey, indicate that the use of NPS alone or in combination with an established illicit substance may be more common among young people in recreational settings.

In 2017, Ljubljana participated in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaign undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE). This study provides data on illicit drug use at a municipal level, based on the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites found in wastewater. The results indicate relatively high levels of cocaine metabolites, while the levels of amphetamine and methamphetamine detected remained low, indicating limited use of these two substances in Ljubljana.

Drug use among students aged 15-16 years is reported by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). This survey has been carried out in Slovenia since 1995 and the most recent survey was in 2015. Slovenian students reported lifetime cannabis use that is above the ESPAD average (based on data from 35 countries), while lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis and lifetime use of NPS were either very close to or the same as the ESPAD averages. Trend analysis indicates that experimentation with cannabis increased markedly among 15- to 16-year-old students between 1995 and 2003, decreased in 2007 and increased again in 2011 and 2015, according to the surveys.

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High-risk drug use and trends

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

The estimated number of high-risk opioid users has remained stable in recent years; the total number was estimated to be around 4 800 in 2016, and the majority of those users inject heroin.

Data from specialised treatment centres in Slovenia indicate that new treatment entries attributable to primary heroin use have decreased significantly in the last eight years. Although heroin remains the principal opioid drug used in Slovenia, reports from harm reduction programmes indicate some change in the drug use profile among clients, suggesting that heroin has been replaced by other substances, such as stimulants, medicines and NPS, all of which may be injected. In general, drug injecting has been declining among treatment clients and a shift towards other administration routes, such as sniffing, smoking or oral use of opioids, has been reported in recent years. Around 50 % of those new to treatment use drugs by sniffing.

In general, the ageing of the population of drug users is also noted in Slovenia, which presents new issues, such as increased social problems, including homelessness, and a higher frequency of acute and chronic illnesses. The number of females in treatment varies by type of drug and treatment programme.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.