European Web Survey on Drugs 2021: Emerging findings in Lebanon

Introduction

The European Web Survey on Drugs1 collected data during March and May 2021 from people who use drugs, are aged 18 or older, and live in 21 EU and 9 non-EU countries including Lebanon. In this period, the populations in many European and neighbouring countries were experiencing COVID-19-related lockdown or restrictions. Unless otherwise indicated, the data presented here refer to the 274 respondents who reported having used at least one illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the survey (last 12 months of use) and live in Lebanon.

Logo of the web survey on drugs

In summary

  • Most survey respondents (93 %) reported using cannabis during the previous 12 months. A total of 42 % had used cocaine and 32 % MDMA/ecstasy.
  • The most commonly reported motivations for cannabis use were relaxation, getting high and treating anxiety.
  • Home was reported as the most common setting for drug use during the period.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and national measures was reported to be greatest on the use of cannabis resin (increased consumption).
  • The explosion in Beirut in 2020 was reported to have had an impact on use of cannabis (increased consumption) and the use of cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine (decreased consumption).

Drug use patterns

Most survey respondents (92 %) reported that they had used cannabis during the previous 12 months. Cocaine, MDMA/ecstasy and new psychoactive substances (NPS) were the next most reported illict substances. One fifth of the sample reported using ketamine (21 %) or amphetamine (20 %) in the last year, while 16 % reported use of methamphetamine and 10 % use of LSD during the period. Heroin use was reported by 5 % of respondents.

Figure 1. Last year prevalence (n = 274)

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 1 on this page.

Motivation for drug use

The motivations to use particular drugs often reflect the effects users expect when they use them. The survey responses suggest cannabis is taken for its calming and euphoric effects, specifically to reduce stress or to relax, to get high or for fun, and to treat anxiety or depression. The motivations reported for cocaine use were euphoric effects and to socialise.

Figure 2a. Motivation for (herbal) cannabis use in the last year (n = 190)

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 2a on this page.

Figure 2b. Motivation for cocaine (powder) use in the last 12 months (n = 69)

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 2b on this page.

Settings for drug use

By far the most commonly reported setting for drug use in the last 12 months was the home, which was mentioned by 83 % of the respondents. Home use would be expected to be predominant. This pattern may have been accentuated by the reduced mobility resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns, the impact of the political and economic situation, and the explosion in Beirut in 2020.

Figure 3. Settings for drug use in the last 12 months (n = 274)

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 3 on this page.

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on drug use

Respondents reported mixed experiences when they were asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their use of illicit drugs. Cannabis resin and herbal cannabis were reported to have been used more, while amphetamine, cocaine powder and ecstasy/MDMA were used less.

Figure 4. Has the COVID-19 pandemic had any impact on your drug use?

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 4 on this page.

Country-specific finding: Perceived impact of the 2020 explosion in Beirut on drug consumption

In addition to standard items included in EMCDDA’s Web Survey on Drugs tool, all European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries that implemented the survey had the opportunity to add a country-specific question. In Lebanon, a question was included about the perceived impact of the 2020 explosion in Beirut on drug use. Reports suggest that the 2020 explosion may have resulted in an increase in cannabis use, while cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine may have been used less.

Figure 5. Did the impact of the explosion in Beirut in 2020 have any impact on your drug use?

The source data for this graphic are available in Table 5 on this page.

Notes

(1) The analysis here covers Lebanon, where the web survey was carried out as part of the EU4Monitoring Drugs (EU4MD) project, funded by the European Union. While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when they are carefully conducted and combined with traditional data collection methods they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe and the European neighbourhood. As such, they are a key ingredient in the EMCDDA’s responsiveness to an ever-shifting drugs problem.

For more detailed information on the project, please see our webpage on the European Web Survey on Drugs.

The European Web Survey on Drugs in Lebanon was implemented by Skoun, Lebanese Addictions Center and the Ministry of Public Health in the framework of the EU4Monitoring Drugs project, financed by the European Union. This document was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

 

Source data

Below you can find the source data tables used for the graphics on this page.

Table 1. Last year prevalence (n = 274)
  % of respondents
Tobacco 92
Cannabis 92
Alcohol 90
Cocaine 42
MDMA/Ecstasy 32
NPS 26
Ketamine 21
Amphetamine 20
Methamphetamine 16
LSD 10
Heroin 5
Table 2a. Motivation for herbal cannabis use in the last 12 months (n = 190)
  % of respondents

To reduce
stress/relax

77
To get high/for fun 65
To treat depression
/anxiety
43
To improve sleep 42
To socialise 33
To reduce pain/inflammation 14
To enhance performance
(school, work, sport, etc.)
13
Out of curiosity
/to experiment
6
Other 4
Table 2b. Motivation for cocaine (powder) use in the last 12 months (n = 69)
  % of respondents
To get high/for fun 77
To socialise 42
To reduce stress/relax 12
To enhance performance
(school, work, sport, etc.)
12
Out of curiosity
/to experiment
10
To treat depression/anxiety 4
Other 3
Table 3. Settings for drug use in last 12 months (n = 274)
Setting % of respondents
Home 83
Music festival or party 38
Public space (street, park, etc.) 35
Club or bar 32
Other 16
Work 15
School/university/training facility 7
Table 4. Has the COVID-19 pandemic had any impact on your drug use? (% of respondents)
Substance I use less I use the same I use more Don't know/No answer
Amphetamine 59 24 12 5
Cocaine powder 49 14 9 28
Ecstasy/MDMA 46 22 16 16
Methamphetamine 29 12 41 18
Herbal Cannabis 17 24 44 15
Cannabis resin 17 17 56 10
NPS 13 7 40 40
Table 5. Has the 2020 Beirut Explosion had any impact on your drug use? (% of respondents)
Substance I use more I use the same I use less Don't know/No answer
Cannabis 53 25 12 10
Methaphetamine 32 24 12 32
Ecstacy/MDMA 27 21 43 9
Cocaine 18 14 56 12
NPS 16 6 34 44
Amphetamine 16 12 40 32
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