European Web Survey on Drugs 2021: top level findings in the Western Balkans

Introduction

The European Web Survey on Drugs collected data between March and April 2021 from people who use drugs, aged 18 or older, living in 21 EU and 9 non-EU countries. The results presented here refer to 2 174 respondents who live in Albania, Kosovo (1), Montenegro, North Macedonia or Serbia, and who reported having used at least one illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the survey (last 12 months use), unless otherwise indicated. During this period many European countries were experiencing COVID-19-related lockdown or restrictions.

Click here for more information on the methodology of the European Web Survey on Drugs.

Last update: 15 December 2021.

Logo of the web survey on drugs

In summary

  • Most survey respondents (91 %) reported using cannabis during the previous 12 months, followed by cocaine (38 %), MDMA/ecstasy (22 %) and amphetamine (20 %).
  • The most commonly reported motivations for cannabis use were relaxation, getting high and aiding sleep.
  • 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 (increased consumption) and ecstasy/MDMA (decreased consumption).

 

Drug use patterns

Most survey respondents (91 %) survey respondents reported that they had used cannabis during the previous 12 months, with little variation between countries.

Cocaine, MDMA/ecstasy and amphetamine were the next most reported illicit substances, with the order of the three drugs varying by country.  

Almost one in six (17 %) respondents reported using new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the last year, while 9 % reported use of LSD. Use of both heroin and methamphetamine was reported by 8 % of respondents.

Figure 1. Last year prevalence (n = 2 174)

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 herbal cannabis is taken for its calming and euphoric effects, specifically to reduce stress or to relax, to get high or for fun and to improve sleep. For MDMA, euphoric and socialising effects are reported as motivations.

Motivation for use may shed some light on the reported decrease in MDMA use by respondents during this period, characterised by COVID-19-related lockdowns, when many people were confined to their homes and access to venues for socialising was reduced. 

Figure 2a. Motivation for use of herbal cannabis in the last 12 months (n = 1 391)

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

Figure 2b. Motivation for use of MDMA/ecstasy in the last 12 months (n = 249)

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 at home, mentioned by almost three quarters of the respondents. Home use would be expected to be predominant, though this pattern may have been accentuated by the reduced mobility resulting from COVID-19-related lockdowns.

Figure 3. Settings for drug use in the last 12 months (n = 2 174)

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

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug use

When asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their use of illicit drugs, respondents reported mixed experiences. Almost a third of respondents who used herbal cannabis reported increasing their use. However, around a third of those reporting use of MDMA, cocaine and amphetamines said their consumption had decreased.

Although the samples reporting heroin and crack cocaine use are small, a majority of those users reported no change in use due to the pandemic.

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

* Data points with low sample size.

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

Notes

The data presented in this factsheet refer to the five candidate and potential candidates that participated in the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD) with the support of the EMCDDA-IPA7 project.

The web survey was also carried out in 21 EU countries, in Switzerland, and in Georgia, Ukraine and Lebanon as part of the EU for Monitoring Drugs (EU4MD) project. Factsheets covering these countries are published separately.

While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when 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. As such, they are a key ingredient in the EMCDDA’s responsiveness to an ever-shifting drugs problem.

For more information on the European web survey on drugs project, see our dedicated page on the European Web Survey on Drugs. More information on IPA7 is available on the EMCDDA-IPA7 project page.

(1) Kosovo: This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Source data

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

Table 1. Last year prevalence (n = 2174)
  % of respondents
Cannabis 91
Alcohol 88
Tobacco 86
Cocaine 38
MDMA/ecstasy 22
Amphetamine 20
NPS 17
LSD 9
Heroin 8
Methamphetamine 8
Ketamine 4
Table 2a. Motivation for herbal cannabis use in the last 12 months (n = 1391)
  % of respondents
To reduce stress/relax 64
To get high/for fun 61
To improve sleep 39
To treat depression/anxiety 33
To socialise 32
To enhance performance
(school/work/sport/etc.)
16
To reduce pain/inflammations 14
Out of curiosity/to experiment 10
Other 3
Table 2b. Motivation for MDMA/ecstasy use in the last 12 months (n = 249)
  % of respondents
To get high/for fun 72
To socialise 41
To reduce stress/relax 24
Out of curiosity/to experiment 22
To treat depression/anxiety 18
To enhance performance
(school/work/sport/etc.)
6
To improve sleep 3
To reduce pain/inflammations 3
Other 5
Table 3. Settings for drug use in last 12 months (n = 2174)
Setting % of respondents
Home 72
Public space (street, park, etc.) 57
Music festival or party 42
Club or bar 39
Work 19
School/university/training facility 14
Other 4
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
Ecstasy/MDMA 34 31 13 22
Methamphetamine* 31 33 11 25
Amphetamine 30 25 22 23
Cocaine powder 30 22 16 32
Cannabis resin 21 35 13 31
New psychoactive substances (NPS) 20 29 23 28
Heroin 19 40 10 31
Herbal cannabis 18 33 32 17
Crack cocaine* 10 48 14 28
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