New releases

Cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and cannabis: latest trends

Cocaine becoming stimulant drug of choice for many young Europeans

(24.11.2005 LISBON)

Cocaine has become a major element in the European drug picture, reports the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today in its 2005 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe launched in Brussels. Indicators of cocaine trafficking and consumption now overwhelmingly point to a rise in importation and use of the drug and there is growing evidence of cocaine-related health problems.

The EMCDDA estimates that around 9 million Europeans (3% of all adults) have ever used cocaine. Between 3 and 3.5 million (1% of all adults) are likely to have tried the drug in the last year, while around 1.5 million (0.5% of all adults) are classified as current users, having used it in the last month. Use is concentrated mainly among young adults (15–34 years), particularly young males, and those living in urban areas.

Cocaine use varies considerably between countries, with most national surveys estimating that between 1% and 11.6% of young Europeans have ever tried the drug and that between 0.2% and 4.6% have used it in the last 12 months.

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Figure 25: Recent (last year) use of cocaine among young adults (15–34 years old) in Europe and the USA

Figure 8: Trends in recent use (last year) of amphetamines among young adults (aged 15–34), measured by population surveys

Figure 9: Trends in recent use (last year) of ecstasy among young adults (aged 15–34), measured by population surveys

Figure 4: Trends in recent use (last year) of cannabis among young adults (aged 15–34), measured by national surveys

Infectious diseases, problem drug use and DRUg-related deaths

Heterosexual transmission overtakes injecting drug use as route of new AIDS cases

(24.11.2005 LISBON)

Heterosexual contacts have now overtaken injecting drug use as the most common route of new AIDS cases, warns the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today in its 2005 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe, launched in Brussels. While until 2001, the majority of new AIDS cases in the EU could be attributed to drug injecting, latest figures reveal that heterosexual transmission now accounts for the largest number (1).

An important contributing factor says the EMCDDA (2), is the improved access for HIV-positive injecting drug users (IDUs) to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)*. Over 75% of those needing HAART now have access to it in most of Western Europe, although in the Baltic States availability remains poor. In Latvia, for example, among IDUs already infected with HIV, cases of AIDS have risen significantly in recent years, suggesting a need to improve access to HAART (3).

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Figure INF-2: AIDS cases by transmission group and year of diagnosis (1987 to 2003) adjusted for reporting delays, EU

Figure INF-1: AIDS cases among IDUs by country (WHO European Region) and year of diagnosis (1982 to 2003) adjusted for reporting delays

Figure DRD-8: Long term trend in acute drug-related deaths in the EU, 1985 to 2003

Over half a million Europeans now receive substitution treatment

Major increase in services for opiate dependence, but availability still uneven

(24.11.2005 LISBON)

The total number of clients in substitution treatment in Europe has now passed the half-million mark, says the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today in its 2005 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe launched in Brussels.

Following a seven-fold increase over the last decade, says the agency, at least 530,000 clients now receive substitution treatment across 28 countries (EU-25, Norway, Bulgaria and Romania), whether through specialist treatment centres or general practitioners. And it is estimated that somewhere between one-quarter and a half of those with opiate problems in Europe may now be receiving treatment of this kind.

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Figure 4: Breakdown of medically assisted treatment (MAT) including high-dosage buprenorphine treatment in Europe (EU Member States, Bulgaria, Romania and Norway)

New developments in drug policy and law

Growing concern over impact of drug use on our communities

(24.11.2005 LISBON)

There is a growing concern in many European countries surrounding the wider impact of drug use on the communities in which we live, says the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today in its 2005 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe.

In a special review on drug-related public nuisance, the EMCDDA points to a new tendency for drug control policies to focus, not only on reducing the use of illegal drugs, but also on targeting drug-related behaviours which have a negative impact on the community as a whole.

‘Behaviours, situations and activities associated with drug-related public nuisance have long existed in most of the EU Member States, candidate countries and Norway and are not new phenomena’, says the agency. ‘What is new is the growing tendency among policy-makers in some countries to group these under a single umbrella concept to be tackled within national drug strategies’.

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Annual report 2005: focus on crime and prison

Most EU countries report increases in drug law offences

(24.11.2005 LISBON)

Violations of drug law (‘drug law offences’) have reportedly increased in the majority of the 25 EU Member States and Norway since the late 1990s, states the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today in its 2005 Annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe, launched in Brussels (1).

This upward trend in 20 countries over the period 1998–2003 is particularly marked, says the agency, in Estonia and Poland, where reported drug law offences increased around ten-fold and three-fold respectively (2). However, in some countries, reports of such offences showed a decline in 2003: Belgium, Spain, Italy, Malta, Austria and Slovenia.

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Table DLO-1 part (i). Number of reports for drug law offences, 1995 to 2003