France still number 1 consumer in Europe
The drug situation in Europe is becoming increasingly complex and is characterized by increased availability and an increasing diversity of consumption patterns. Today in Europe, everyone is in one way or another affected by drug use. 27% of Europeans have used cannabis. The European Drug Report (EDR) 2022 comes at a time when recent major world events have had a profound impact on all areas of our lives and therefore also have implications for the drug problems we face in Europe.
The EMCDDA report is designed to help Europe better prepare to meet these challenges. It does this by analyzing both the trends shaping the current situation and identifying emerging threats that may have an impact on the drug problems that Europe will face in the future.
With interesting data on the prevalence of cannabis use in Europe, the average price of cannabis on the continent and its average THC concentration: 78 million people in Europe testified to having smoked cannabis in their lifetime, for the most between 15 and 34 years old. The highest percentage of consumption is in France with a strict policy on the matter and the lowest in Malta which has approved legalization recently. The price of cannabis in Europe varies from 8 to 14 euro per gram and the percentage of THC is on the rise: mainly in cannabis, according to the annual drug report, which warns of the phenomenon “ k2 » spice.
It is estimated that around 83,4 million adults, or 29% of adults (aged 15-64) in the European Union, have ever used an illicit drug, with men (50,5 million) outnumbering them than women (33 million) to declare this consumption. Cannabis remains the most commonly used substance, with more than 22 million European adults reporting having used it in the past year.
The proportion of Europeans who have used cannabis at some point in their life varies considerably across Europe, ranging from 4,3% of the adult population in Malta, the least cannabis-intensive European country, to 44,8% of the adult population in France. , the European country with the most cannabis. It is interesting to note that Malta, where it consumes the least cannabis in Europe, has approved legalization in December 2021, while France has not yet done so and is even considered to have a relatively strict cannabis policy.
Ce rapport is also largely based on recent analyses, carried out in partnership with Europol, of the evolution of the cocaine and methamphetamine markets. These studies show the increasingly important role that stimulants are now playing in the drug problem in Europe.
Stimulants are the second most frequently reported category. Over the past year, an estimated 3,5 million adults have used cocaine, 2,6 million MDMA and 2 million amphetamines. Around one million Europeans have used heroin or another illicit opioid in the past year. Although the prevalence of opioid use is lower than that of other drugs, opioids still account for the majority of harm attributed to illicit drug use. This is illustrated by the presence of opioids, often in combination with other substances, which were involved in around three quarters of fatal overdoses reported in the European Union in 2020.
In 2020, EU Member States reported 64000 cocaine seizures, amounting to 213 tonnes (202 tonnes in 2019). Belgium (70 tonnes), the Netherlands (49 tonnes) and Spain (37 tonnes) accounted for almost 75% of the total quantity seized.
The average purity of cocaine sold at retail hovered between 31% and 80% in Europe in 2020, with half of the countries reporting an average purity of between 54% and 68%. Cocaine purity has trended upwards over the past decade and in 2020 reached a level 40% higher than the base year of 2010.
In 2020, the 91000 offenses relating to the consumption or possession of cocaine continue an upward trend compared to the previous four years.
In the European Union, surveys indicate that nearly 2,2 million young people aged 15 to 34 (2,2% of this age group) have used cocaine in the past year. Of the 14 European countries conducting surveys since 2019 and reporting confidence intervals, eight reported higher estimates than in the previous comparable survey, four a stable trend and two a lower estimate.
For most cities with municipal wastewater data for 2019 and 2020, decreases in cocaine residues were observed in 2020. Data for 2021 show an increase in cocaine residues in 32 of 58 cities compared to 2020 , while 12 cities reported no change and 14 cities reported a decrease.
In 2020, cocaine was the second most problematic drug for patients entering treatment for the first time, cited by 14000 patients, or 15% of all patients entering treatment for the first time. Cocaine was the second most frequently reported substance by hospitals in the Euro-DEN Plus network in 2020, present in 21% of acute drug toxicity cases. The number of emergency room visits related to cocaine decreased by 15% between 2019 and 2020.
Of the 22 countries providing data, cocaine, primarily in the presence of opioids, was implicated in 13,4% of overdose deaths in 2020 (14,3% in 2019). Cocaine was the drug most frequently referred to drug analysis ("testing") services in 10 European cities in 2020 (22%) and 2021 (24%). Just five EU countries accounted for more than 90% of the 4000 crack-related treatment admissions reported by countries with data for 2020. An estimated 7000 patients entered treatment for crack problems in Europe in 2020.
It is important to note that most users who have drug problems are polydrug users. We are also seeing a vastly increased complexity in drug use patterns, with drugs, new unregulated psychoactive substances and substances such as ketamine and GBL/GBH now associated with drug problems in some countries or in some groups. This complexity is reflected in the growing recognition that drug use is linked to, or complicates, the way we respond to pressing health and social issues today. These issues include mental health issues and self-harm, homelessness, youth delinquency and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals and communities.
A general conclusion drawn from this year's report is that we now face a more complex drug situation, characterized by high availability and a greater diversity of patterns of drug use. From our reporting on the phenomenon of new psychoactive substances, almost anything with psychoactive potential is now likely to appear on the market, often mislabelled, which means those who use these substances may not know what they actually use.
In this context, the adulteration of products based on synthetic cannabinoids "spice", one example among many of the new threats related to drugs that we are currently witnessing. The other reason is the ever-increasing production of synthetic drugs in Europe with a particular focus on the production of methamphetamine. It is noted in this report that COVID-19 has had an ongoing impact on addictions services and how people acquire substances. There is also a continued need in many countries to expand treatment and harm reduction services for people with drug misuse problems.