Drug injecting

Injecting drug users (IDUs) are at very high risk of experiencing adverse consequences. It is therefore important to consider drug injection separately, as a core category of PDU.

Despite its importance for public health, few countries provide national or local estimates of injecting drug use. Available national-level estimates range between one and six cases per 1 000 population aged 15–64, suggesting important differences between countries in the prevalence of IDU (107). Luxembourg reports the highest national estimates of IDU, with rates of about six cases per 1 000 population aged 15–64, whereas Greece reports the lowest IDU estimate, with just over one case per 1 000. Although prevalence estimates for injecting drug use are scarce, there is evidence of increasing prevalence after 1999 in Norway, while in Portugal different estimation methods suggest different trends (108).

Analysis of injecting rates among heroin users in treatment suggests marked differences in rates between countries as well as varying trends over time (109). In some countries (Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal), a relatively small proportion of heroin users inject, whereas in most other countries injection of heroin is still the norm. In some long-standing EU countries from which data are available (Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom), rates of injecting among heroin users in treatment have declined. However, in most of the new Member States, at least where data exist, almost all heroin users in treatment are injectors.


(107) See Figure PDU-2 in the 2005 statistical bulletin.

(108) See Figure PDU-5 in the 2005 statistical bulletin.

(109) See Figure PDU-3 in the 2005 statistical bulletin.