European Web Survey on Drugs 2021

From the EMCDDA press release

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) published today results of the European Web Survey on Drugs. The survey ran between March and April 2021 in 30 countries (21 EU and 9 non-EU) when many populations were under COVID-19-related lockdowns. Targeted at people aged 18 and over who have used drugs, the survey aims to improve understanding of patterns of drug use in Europe and help shape future drug policies and interventions.

Close to 50 000 adults (48.469) responded to the survey from 21 EU Member States and Switzerland. Cannabis was the drug used most, with 93% of survey respondents reporting to have used it in the previous 12 months and with little variation between countries. MDMA/ecstasy (35%), cocaine (35%) and amphetamine (28%) were the next most reported illicit substances, with the order of the three drugs varying by country. Around a third of respondents (32%) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 42% using less MDMA/ecstasy.

The survey revealed that one fifth (20%) of the sample reported using LSD in the last year, 16% using new psychoactive substances (NPS) and 13% using ketamine. Heroin use was reported by 3% of respondents. Although the sample reporting heroin use was small, over a quarter of these respondents (26%) reported using this drug more during the period studied.

New to the 2021 round was the participation of the agency’s partners from the Western Balkans, through an EMCDDA technical assistance project (IPA7).

Over 2 000 adults (2 174) from Albania, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia responded to the survey. Most respondents (91%) reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months, followed by cocaine (38%), MDMA/ecstasy (22%) and amphetamine (20%). Again, around a third of respondents (32%) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 34% using less MDMA/ecstasy.

Almost one in six (17%) respondents reported using NPS in the last year, while 9% reported use of LSD. Use of both heroin and methamphetamine was reported by 8% of respondents.

Home was reported as the most common setting for drug use during the period (85% of respondents in the EU-Switzerland survey and 72% in the Western Balkans), a pattern accentuated by COVID-19 lockdowns and closure of nightlife venues. Motivation for the use of different substances sheds some light on these results. The most commonly reported motivations for cannabis use were relaxation, getting high and aiding sleep, while for MDMA/ecstasy, they were its euphoric and socialising effects.

 

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Traineeship available at the EMCDDA

The European Drug Agency (EMCDDA) has 8 traineeship positions available to work with them next year. This is the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in one of the areas of the EMCDDA’s work.

Traineeship is available in 8 different areas of the agency’s work:

The deadline for applications is 10 January 2022.

The Call for traineeship is available following this link>>>.

 

European Drugs Winter School 2022

The European Drugs Winter School 2022 (EDWS), organised by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) will be held from 14th to 25th of February 2022. EDWS prepares professionals and students to meet the complex policy challenges that face Europe and the World in the field of drugs.

This edition will have a special focus on Cannabis: practice, policies and debates in the EU and beyond.

The Winter School will be delivered through online and remote instruction. Following the success of the first Winter School, live sessions with experts and practitioners will be held from early afternoon until late afternoon (Lisbon Time, GMT +1 to GMT +3/4). Individual small exercises will be given and assessed every day, and an exam will be offered to those who wish to earn the credits. Virtual tours to field work will be included.

Candidates’ Profile include university students (undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate), researchers, professionals and administrators interested in or working in the drugs field, including participants from the EMCDDA’s network of focal points in 30 countries, or from programmes being developed by the EMCDDA with third countries (e.g. Western Balkans, North Africa, Eastern Europe).

Bursaries are available for Western Balkan region and European Neighbourhood Policy!

Professionals, academics and experts from the Western Balkan region and European Neighbourhood Policy countries will have an opportunity to participate in the 2022 European Drugs Winter School (EDWS), thanks to scholarships offered through two EMCDDA projects: the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA7) and EU4Monitoring Drugs (EU4MD). The scholarships will cover the course fees. All candidates from those regions who apply in the first phase (deadline 5th of December) will be eligible.

Deadline for applications: 5 December 2021 (Early Bird) | 23 January 2022 (Final).

Deadline for scholarship applications: 5 December 2021.

The EDWS will be followed by the European Drugs Summer School (EDSS) from 27 June to 8 July. Scholarships (covering course fees) are also available.

If interested, find more information following this link>>>.

 

 

FAQ on drug overdose deaths in Europe

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) created a specific webpage which answers to the questions most often asked about drug overdose deaths in Europe. Also known as drug-induced deaths, they are deaths directly attributable to the use of illicit drugs. The information presented here is based on the latest data from the Member States of the European Union and the EMCDDA affiliates Norway and Turkey. It draws on contributions from specialists from these countries, as well as on information provided by European countries in the annual reporting exercise to the agency.

This page aims to raise awareness on the nature and scale of the drug overdose deaths problem in Europe. This topic does not receive sufficient attention, despite the high number of lives lost, the dramatic consequences for families and communities and the fact that all of these deaths are, in principle, preventable and avoidable.

The latest European Drug Report (EMCDDA, 2021a) estimated that over 5 100 deaths involving one or more illicit drugs were reported in 2019 in the European Union. This estimate rises to more than 5 700 deaths when Norway and Turkey are included. Men accounted for three quarters of drug-induced deaths. All of these deaths were premature, predominantly affecting people in their thirties and forties.

The webpage is available following this link>>>.

 

Changes at the drugs market in the Western Balkans

To improve understanding of the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug market in the Western Balkans, the European Drugs Agency (EMCDDA) published ad hoc publication Illicit drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans: Impact of COVID-19.

This report provides the main results of studies conducted using the trendspotter methodology to explore the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on the drug markets and supply in the Western Balkans.

Reported here are the findings of a rapid multidisciplinary expert opinion study to review the possible impact of COVID-19 on the operation of the drug market. The current situation is extremely dynamic.

The findings of the study should be interpreted with caution as they are based substantially on expert opinions gathered from law enforcement sources between September and October 2020, when the research was conducted. In general, very limited statistical or research data is available in the Western Balkan region on drug markets during this period. Therefore, the conclusions are necessarily preliminary and will require review as more data sources become available.

To read the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

European Drug Report 2021 presented

From the EMCDDA press release

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) publishes its European Drug Report 2021: Trends and Developments, the latest annual review of the drug situation in Europe. Based on data from 29 countries (EU 27, Turkey and Norway), the report offers new insights into the health and security implications of a complex and evolving drugs problem and of a drug market resilient to COVID-19 disruption.

The report warns of the risks to public health posed by the availability and use of a wider range of substances, often of high potency or purity. It also describes how organised crime groups have intensified illegal drug production inside Europe to evade anti-trafficking measures, creating environmental, health and security risks. Drawing on the latest EMCDDA rapid assessment study, the report explores the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug markets, use and services.

Presenting findings from the latest EMCDDA trendspotter study, the report illustrates how the drug market continues to adjust to COVID-19 disruption, as drug traffickers adapt to travel restrictions and border closures.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Cannabis use remains stable at high levels, but increased THC content raises health concerns — Rise observed in the THC content of cannabis resin (average range: 20%–28%). Health alerts warn of cannabis adulterated with highly-potent synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Record cocaine seizures, a worrying signal of potential for increased health harms — A record 213 tonnes were seized in 2019 (up from 177 tonnes in 2018). Cocaine purity has increased and more people are entering treatment for the first time. Preliminary seizure data in 2020 suggest availability has not declined in the pandemic.
  • Stable amphetamine demand makes domestic production near consumers profitable — Alongside the dismantling of production facilities in 2019, chemicals used to manufacture amphetamine were also seized in the EU, including 14 500 litres of BMK and 31 tonnes of MAPA (up from 7 tonnes in 2018).
  • Methamphetamine production and trafficking highlight potential for increased use in Europe — Both large-scale and smaller production facilities are being detected in Europe and large quantities of the drug are being transhipped through the EU to other markets.
  • Risks to health from supply of high-strength MDMA products — In addition to increases in the average MDMA content in tablets and the purity of powders, products with very high levels of MDMA are also being detected. Preliminary data from 2020 suggest there was less interest in this drug during periods of lockdown.
  • Harmful potent new psychoactive substances continue to emerge — Among these are new synthetic cannabinoids and new synthetic opioids. A total of 46 new psychoactive substances (NPS) were reported for the first time in Europe in 2020, bringing the total number monitored by EMCDDA to 830.
  • Are less commonly used drugs posing increasing challenges for public health? — These drugs include hallucinogens, ketamine and GHB. Worryingly, intensive patterns of use are reported in some settings.
  • Large heroin seizures signal potential for increased use and harms — Large volumes of heroin are still being seized in the EU (7.9 tonnes in 2019), raising concerns around the possible impact on levels of use.
  • Organised crime groups intensify illegal drug production within Europe — A total of 370 illegal laboratories were dismantled in 2019.
  • Drug law offences increase, with cannabis possession and supply predominant — An estimated 1.5 million drug law offences were reported in the EU in 2019; 82% were related to use or possession for personal use.
  • First-time treatment clients for heroin use continue to inject less — Although injecting drug use has been declining in Europe for the past decade, it remains a major cause of drug-related harms.
  • Scaling up treatment and prevention is required to reach HIV and HCV Sustainable Development Goals — Increased access to integrated testing and treatment services is an important part of reaching targets.
  • Overdose deaths driven by opioids and other drugs highlight need for service development — High-risk substance use and polydrug use continue to fuel drug-induced deaths in Europe.

The Report is available in various European languages including English (en) and those from our region Bulgarian (bg), Croatian (hr), Greek (el), Romanian (ro) and Slovene (sl).

 

European Drugs Summer School 2021

From the EMCDDA, we have received an update regarding the 2021 European Drugs Summer School (EDSS) – organised by the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) in cooperation with the EMCDDA – which will take place online from 28 June until 9 July.

The course prepares professionals and students to meet the complex policy and practice challenges in the field of drugs. Involving scientific experts from the EMCDDA, university professors and policymakers, they provide a multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to the study of the drugs problem in Europe and beyond.

The two-week course will focus on Vulnerable groups. Sessions will include lectures on the prevention of drug-related problems; social determinants of drug use and interventions for vulnerable groups (homeless, prisoners, migrants). Virtual study visits will be organised to one of the Portuguese commissions for dissuasion as well as a local harm reduction centre. During the course, students will participate in interactive workshops to discuss their own projects and views. The course will conclude with an open debate with guest speakers, followed by an exam for those wishing to obtain credits.

Also this time, the EMCDDA-IPA7 project will provide for some limited bursaries to applicants from the Western Balkan countries

Interested candidates should register before 7 June next, directly at the ISCTE-IUL web site by using the blue ‘Register Now’ button. Successful candidates will be informed about their bursary acceptance during the week of 14-18 June 2021.

For more information, please follow this link>>>.

 

The third trendspotter study on COVID-19 and drugs

Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the way we live, with European countries having to introduce unprecedented measures to protect public health. As with all areas of life, drug consumption, related harms and drug markets have been impacted, as have the services established to respond to drug-related problems. During the first weeks of the pandemic, the EMCDDA instigated two rapid assessment studies to identify the initial impact and implications of COVID-19.

The EMCDDA releases today the third in a series of rapid ‘trendspotter’ studies exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the drug situation and responses to it. Revisiting and reviewing findings from two studies in 2020 on the effects of the pandemic on drug use and services, the report identifies new trends and developments which may have implications for policy and practice.

The report explores the situation in the EU Member States from June 2020 to February 2021, particularly changes in drug markets, patterns of use, harms and drug services, both in the community and in prisons.

The EMCDDA’s trendspotter methodology examines emerging drug-related trends by rapidly collecting and triangulating data from a variety of sources to allow for timely assessments of topics of concern. Specifically, for this COVID-19 impact study, the methodology was adapted to suit online investigation, taking into account the national emergency restrictions on both the EMCDDA team and the study participants. The study was designed to be carried out in successive waves.

The new analysis draws on a range of sources, including: three online surveys, eight virtual facilitated groups, data and literature reviews.

To access the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

A great insight into the new EU Drugs Strategy

DPNSEE hosted the Webinar on EU Drugs Strategy 2021 – 2025 on Wednesday 24 March 2021. The Webinar was supported by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The webinar was supposed to serve as a source of inspiration to support all those involved process of design, implementation and evaluation of drug strategies.

The EU Drugs Strategy 2021 – 2025 was presented by Danilo Ballotta, Coordinator – Institutional relations at the EMCDDA (link to Danilo’s presentation>>>).

Iga Jeziorska, from Youth Organisations for Drug Action, Chair of the Working Group on the EU Action Plan at the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (link to Iga’s presentation>>>) and Adrià Cots Fernández, Research and Advocacy Officer, International Drug Policy Consortium spoke about the civil society involvement in the process of designing the Strategy.

A more critical view on the Strategy was offered by Péter Sárosi from the Rights Reporter Foundation (link to Péter’s presentation>>>).

Discussions in three separate discussion rooms followed on three main pillars of the Strategy: Reducing supply (facilitated by Željko Petković, Assistant Director, Service for Combatting Drug Abuse at the Croatian Institute of Public Health), Reducing demand (facilitated by Matej Košir, Deputy Chairperson, Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, UTRIP Institute, Slovenia) and Harm reduction (facilitated by Marios Atzemis, DPNSEE Board member, European AIDS Treatment Group Greece).

More than 70 representatives of governmental organisations, both on national and local level, academia, civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.

The Webinar offered a comprehensive and interesting insight into the Strategy and caused an interesting discussion and exchange of views.

Webinar on EU Drugs Strategy 2021 – 2025

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) invite you to participate in the webinar that will provide information on the new European Union drug strategy.

The EU Council approved the EU Drugs Strategy on 18 December 2020 setting out the political framework and priorities for the EU’s drug policy in the period 2021-2025. The strategy aims to ensure a high level of health promotion, social stability and security and contribute to awareness raising. On the basis of this strategy, the Council will prepare an action plan which will set out concrete measures to achieve these priorities.

With this strategy, the EU and its member states reaffirm their commitment to an approach which is based on evidence, comprehensive and balanced between demand and supply reduction of drugs, with the preservation of human rights at its core. At the same time, this strategy uses the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis in the drugs area and takes a future-oriented approach, promoting research, innovation and foresight to respond more effectively to increasing challenges and to anticipate them.

The webinar may serve as a source of inspiration to support all those involved process of design, implementation and evaluation of drug strategies. It is especially suitable for regional drug strategy makers, regional civil society groups, European and other interested participants.

The EU Drugs Strategy 2021 – 2025 will be presented by Danilo Ballotta, Coordinator – Institutional relations at the EMCDDA.

We also expect inputs from the civil society activists. The full list of speakers will be published before the webinar.

The Webinar will be held via Zoom on Wednesday 24 March 2021 starting at 13:00 CET. The Webinar will last for 90 minutes.

The Webinar will be delivered in English, with translation into Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian. We are exploring opportunities for translation into other languages of South East Europe.

As the number of participants is limited, please register by Tuesday 23 March using the following link>>>.