High-risk cocaine use: stable treatment demand

The prevalence of high-risk cocaine use in Europe is difficult to gauge as only 4 countries have recent estimates and different definitions and methodologies have been used. In 2015, based on severity of dependence scale questions, Germany estimated high-risk cocaine use among the adult population at 0.20 %, while Spain used frequency of use to estimate high-risk cocaine use at 0.24 %. In 2015, Italy produced an estimate of 0.65 % for those in need of treatment for cocaine use. High-risk cocaine use in Portugal was estimated at 0.62 % in 2012, based on reported last year use.

Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom account for three quarters (74 %) of all reported treatment entries related to cocaine in Europe. Overall, cocaine was cited as the primary drug by around 63 000 clients entering specialised drug treatment in 2015 and by around 28 000 first-time clients. After a period of decline, the overall number of cocaine first-time treatment entrants has been relatively stable since 2012.

In 2015, 7 400 clients entering treatment in Europe reported primary crack cocaine use, with the United Kingdom accounting for almost two thirds (4 800). Spain, France and the Netherlands together (1 900) account for most of the remainder.

In addition, the United Kingdom (England) estimated crack cocaine use among the adult population at 0.48 % during 2011/12. The majority of these crack users were also using opioids.

Cocaine users entering treatment


14 %

86 %

Mean age at first...




Frequency of use in the last month


mean use 3.7 days per week

Route of administration


Trends in first-time entrants


Characteristics are for all treatment entrants with cocaine as primary drug. Trends in first-time entrants are based on 23 countries.Due to changes in the flow of data at national level, data since 2014 for Italy is not comparable with earlier years.