Availability Of Illegal Substances According To Young People In The European Union

"Cannabis is perceived to be the easiest illicit substance to get hold of, with around one third of ESPAD students (32 %) rating cannabis as easily obtainable. More students in the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechia, Slovenia and Slovakia than in the other ESPAD countries perceived cannabis to be easily available (rates from 45 % to 51 %). The countries with the lowest perceived availability of cannabis were Kosovo (11 %), Ukraine (13 %), Romania (16 %) and North Macedonia (19 %). Boys were more likely than girls to consider cannabis to be easily available (ESPAD average: 34 % for boys versus 30 % for girls).

"Compared with cannabis, perceived availability was low for ecstasy (MDMA) (14 %), cocaine (13 %), amphetamine (10 %) and methamphetamine (8.5 %). These drugs were perceived to be more easily available in Bulgaria, Sweden and Denmark than elsewhere in Europe.

"The perceived availability of ecstasy was highest (over 20 %) in Slovakia, Czechia, Slovenia and the Netherlands, whereas for cocaine it was highest in Denmark and Ireland (22 % each). The countries with the lowest perceived availability of nearly all illicit drugs were Kosovo, Georgia and Romania.

"On average, 2.4 % of the ESPAD students reported having used cannabis for the first time at age 13 or younger. The highest proportions were found in France (4.5 %), Italy (4.4 %), Latvia (3.8 %), Cyprus (3.6 %) and Estonia (3.5 %). Rates of early onset of amphetamine/methamphetamine use were lower (ESPAD average: 0.5 %), with the highest proportion in Bulgaria (1.8 %). Boys were more likely than girls to have used cannabis or amphetamine/ methamphetamine at age 13 or younger. Similar results were found for early onset of ecstasy and cocaine use.

"The average prevalence of lifetime use of illicit drugs was 17 %, with considerable variation across ESPAD countries. It should be noted that this mainly relates to cannabis use (average lifetime prevalence of 16 %). The highest proportions of students reporting lifetime use of any illicit drug were found in Czechia (29 %), Italy (28 %), Latvia (27 %) and Slovakia (25 %). Particularly low levels (10 % or less) of lifetime illicit drug use were noted in Kosovo, Iceland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Serbia, Sweden, Norway, Greece and Romania."


ESPAD Group (2020), ESPAD Report 2019: Results from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, EMCDDA Joint Publications, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.