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

The 2018 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 15 and 16 May at the EMCDDA in Lisbon.

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

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 2017.
  • 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:

  • Moving beyond illicit drugs – how can surveys monitor other topics
  • Monitoring drug use in recreational settings: challenges and opportunities
  • Parallel sessions
    • Estimation of high-risk cannabis use through scales in GPS
    • Implementing a general population survey on drug use: challenges and experiences
    • Monitoring drug use in recreational settings: reflections on questionnaire design and terminologies
  • Cocaine use going up. What can surveys tell us?
  • Drug survey methodology: recent studies and new approaches
  • Local realities – targeted surveys on specific population groups