The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) will publish the European drug report 2022: trends and developments on 14 June 2022. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview and summary of the European drug situation up to the end of 2021.
The Health Research Board (HRB) provides the Irish data and research for the EMCDDA report. This media brief provides an overview of the drug situation in Europe and a comparison with the Irish drug situation where possible.
The European drug report highlights
- A rapid bounce back of drug supply and use following disruption during COVID-19.
- Drug availability and use remain at high levels across the EU, and potent and hazardous substances are still appearing.
- Drug treatment and other services are returning to normal after the COVID-19 restrictions.
- Cannabis products are becoming increasingly diverse and the production of synthetic drugs within Europe is on the rise.
Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD said, ‘I welcome the publication of the European Drug Report 2021. Drug use effects all in society; it impacts not only the person who uses drugs, but also their loved ones and their wider community. A coordinated approach is required, which is why the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan will be critical in the years to come.’
EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel says: ‘This report arrives at a time when major global events are touching upon all areas of our lives. Through its analysis of current trends and emerging threats, the report explores how these developments may influence drug problems in Europe in the future. I firmly believe that we can only address the complex policy issues in the drugs field if we base our responses on a balanced and evidence-based understanding of the problem.’
Hazardous new psychoactive substances
New psychoactive substances (NPS) continue to appear in Europe at the rate of one per week, posing a public health challenge. In 2021, 52 New psychoactive substances (NPS) were reported for the first time through the EU Early Warning System (EWS), bringing the total number of NPS monitored by the EMCDDA to 880. In 2021, 15 new synthetic opioids, 6 synthetic cathinones and 6 new synthetic cannabinoids were reported for the first time.
Drug problems in Europe can be influenced by developments occurring internationally. Despite the 2022 Taliban ban on the production, sale and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan, poppy cultivation appears to continue. Following controls on synthetic cathinones in China, most bulk quantities of these substances trafficked to Europe in 2020 originated in India, reflecting market adaptation to legal controls and supply disruptions.
- Around 83.4 million or 29 % of adults (aged 15-64) in the European Union are estimated to have used illegal drugs at least once in their lifetime.
- Cannabis remains the most widely consumed substance, with over 22 million European adults reporting its use in the last year. Last year drug use is largely concentrated among young adults and is estimated at 15.5% among EU inhabitants aged 15–34 years.
- It is estimated that in the last year 3.5 million adults consumed cocaine, 2.6 million MDMA and 2 million amphetamines. Surveys indicate that nearly 2.2million 15–34-year-olds (2.2% of this age group) used cocaine in the last year.
- Around one million Europeans used heroin or another illicit opioid in 2020.
- Opioids, often in combination with other substances, were found in around three quarters of fatal overdoses reported in the European Union for 2020.
Minister Feighan commented, ‘The European Drug Report highlights a variety of challenges, including those in relation to new psychoactive substances. Strengthening harm reduction responses to high-risk drug use is an important action within our national drugs strategy. The Department of Health and the HSE have developed a pilot drug monitoring programme to be delivered by the HSE at selected music festivals, as a public health response to the harms of drug use in nightlife environments. These proposals are currently being reviewed by An Garda Síochána and I look forward to working with a variety of stakeholders to progress this important work.’
Minister Feighan continued, ‘As part of the national drugs strategy, a new strategic implementation group has been set up to focus and drive Prevention, Education and Awareness to build skills and confidence in young people and encourage healthy choices and behaviour. I will soon be announcing a Prevention and Education funding programme to encourage the development of evidence-based prevention measures.’
Source: The Health Research Board, 14/06/22