It is our great pleasure to introduce the European Drug Report 2017: Trends and Developments, the EMCDDA’s flagship publication, which provides the latest data on the drug situation and responses in Europe. We offer you a package of information and analysis that is rich and multi-layered, based on the most recent data and statistics provided by our national partners.

The 2017 report is accompanied by a new set of national overviews, in the form of 30 Country Drug Reports, presenting accessible online summaries of national drug trends and developments in policy and practice taking place in European countries.

While this publication provides an annual update of the drug phenomenon in Europe, it also builds on the triennial EU Drug Markets Report, published in 2016. And later this year it will be complemented by the first dedicated EU report on health and social responses to drugs.

At the EMCDDA, we are tasked with collecting data and ensuring that it is fit for purpose. In doing so, we strive to provide the best possible evidence and contribute to realising our vision of a healthier and more secure Europe. As a top-level overview and analysis of drug-related trends and developments, we intend this report to be a useful tool for European and national policymakers and planners who wish to base their strategies and interventions on the most recent information available. In line with our objective to deliver high quality services to our stakeholders, this latest report will allow access to data that can be used for multiple purposes: as baseline and follow-up data for policy and service evaluations; to give context and help define priorities for strategic planning; to enable comparisons to be made between national situations and datasets; and to highlight emerging threats and issues.

This year´s report highlights some potentially worrying changes in the market for illicit opioids, the substances that continue to be associated with a high level of morbidity and mortality in Europe. We note the overall increase in opioid-related overdose deaths as well as the increasing reports of problems linked with opioid substitution medications and new synthetic opioids. As the drug phenomenon continues to evolve, so too must Europe’s response to drugs. The framework for concerted action, set out in the European drug strategy 2013–20, allows for this. A new drug action plan for the period 2017–20 has been proposed by the European Commission and is being discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. It builds on the findings of the mid-term assessment of the current EU drug strategy and the final evaluation of the 2013–17 action plan. The EMCDDA’s work to support evidence-informed drug policymaking in Europe is reflected in these key policy documents.

In conclusion, we wish to thank our colleagues in the Reitox network of national focal points, who alongside national experts, provide most of the data that underpin this publication. We also acknowledge the contribution of numerous European research groups, without which this analysis would be less rich. The report also benefits from collaboration with our European partners: the European Commission, Europol, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Laura d’Arrigo
Chair, EMCDDA Management Board

Alexis Goosdeel
Director, EMCDDA