ESPAD Report 2019

The latest European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report, published in collaboration with the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), was presented on 12 November 2020. ESPAD is a collaborative network of independent research teams in over 40 European countries and the largest cross-national research project on adolescent substance use in the world. It is coordinated by the ESPAD Italian team at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-IFC).

This report presents the results from the seventh wave of data collection, conducted in 35 countries during the spring and autumn of 2019. That includes nine out of 11 South East European countries – all except Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. A total of 99 647 pupils participated in the latest survey round, responding to an anonymous questionnaire.

It gives a comprehensive picture of the present situation among European young people as regards the use of cigarettes, alcohol, illicit drugs, inhalants, new psychoactive substances and pharmaceuticals, but also insights into gambling, social media use and gaming. The report also presents an overview of trends over the time period 1995-2019.

The latest survey shows that, on average, one in six school pupils (17 per cent) reported having used an illicit drug at least once in their life, with levels varying considerably across the ESPAD countries (range: 4.2 per cent–29 per cent). Lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use in this group has been declining slightly since 2011, although has been generally stable over the past two decades. The non-medical use of prescription drugs among adolescents remains a concern, the statement said.

Cannabis is still the illicit drug most used by school pupils in ESPAD countries. On average, 16 per cent of respondents reported using cannabis at least once in their lifetime (11 per cent in 1995), while 7.1 per cent reported last-month use (4.1 per cent in 1995).

Alcohol use remains high among adolescents in Europe, with an average of over three-quarters (79 per cent) of school pupils having used alcohol in their lifetime and almost half (47 per cent) having used it in the last month. The prevalence of “heavy episodic drinking” reached its lowest level in the 2019 survey (35 per cent), following a peak in 2007 (43 per cent). Changes in drinking regulations at national level may have contributed to the decline in alcohol use among young people, the statement said.

Positive developments are also seen with regard to teenage smoking, against a backdrop of tobacco policy measures introduced over the last two decades. Between 1995 and 2019, ESPAD averages for cigarette use declined for lifetime use (68 per cent to 42 per cent); current use (33 per cent to 20 per cent) and daily use (20 per cent to 10 per cent). New data reveal high prevalence of e-cigarette smoking — 40 per cent for lifetime use and 14 per cent for last-month use — with those who have never smoked cigarettes (‘never smokers’) reporting higher rates of this behaviour than ‘occasional smokers’ and ‘regular smokers’.

The 2019 ESPAD results show that gambling for money has become a popular activity among school pupils in Europe, with 22 per cent of respondents reporting gambling on at least one game in the past 12 months (predominantly lotteries). Around 60 per cent of respondents reported having played digital games on a typical school day within the last month (69 per cent on a non-school day). In most countries, boys spend twice as much time gaming as girls.

Around 94 per cent of respondents reported use of social media in the past week. On average, users spent two to three hours on social media on a typical school day, rising to six or more hours on non-school days. In most countries, girls reported using social media on non-school days more frequently than boys.

You can download the report and access all of the source data following this link>>>.

Source data in Excel format has been split into two separate archives: (1) data used to generate graphics and tables in the main report and (2) additional tables with more results not presented in the main report.