Drug situation in Europe - Statistics & Facts

It is estimated that 5.2 percent of the global population between the ages of 15 and 64 years (over 360 million people) used an illicit drug in 2014. That represents an increase of 24 million people since 1990. The magnitude of the drug problem in Europe becomes more apparent when considering the rate of problem drug use in individual countries; For example prevalence in Italy reached 9.95, meaning almost 10 out of 1,000 Italians are recognized as a problem drug user, suffering from drug use disorders or drug dependence.

The number of people in Europe who have used illicit drugs varies by drug type; Marijuana ranks first with an estimated 23.3 percent of individuals having used it in their lifetime and over half of regular users smoking it every day. The production of cannabis resin is confined to a few countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South-West Asia, whereas cannabis herb is produced in most countries of the world. In 2015, the majority of marijuana in the Italian market came from Albania, while the majority of hashish came from Morocco. The law offences related to cannabis in Europe are mostly linked to cannabis use.

The prevalence of cocaine use is relatively low in Europe; The United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland record the highest prevalence at 2 percent, meaning that 2 percent of the adult population of the respective countries have used/use cocaine. In Europe generally, 20 percent of users used cocaine on a daily basis in 2014. Similarly, the use of amphetamines across Europe has been rather low, with approximately one percent of individuals using it in 2015. Considering ecstasy, an estimated 3.75 million European people consumed the drug at least once in 2014, with 1.6 tons of ecstasy confiscated in Western and Central Europe in the same year.

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the majority of individuals who died from drugs in Europe were aged between 40 and 64 years old. In Italy 305 deaths were recorded related to drug abuse in 2015. In 2014, Sweden registered 765 drug-related deaths.

The number of individuals in substitution treatment for opioid addiction in Europe was reported to be over 680 thousand in 2014, with the majority of them entering treatment for heroin addiction. According to reports, over half of individuals seeking treatment for heroin use self-refer themselves, while 25 percent of individuals seeking treatment for cannabis use enter through the criminal system.

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Drug use in Europe - Important statistics

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