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Drugs policy

Drugs in facts and figures

Drugs are a complex social and health problem that affects millions of people in the EU. The human and social costs of drugs addiction are very high. They generate costs for public health (on drug prevention and treatment, healthcare and hospital treatment), public safety, the environment and labour productivity. In many countries around the world, drug trafficking also affects national stability and governance.

Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking and drug production remain among the most profitable criminal activities for organised crime groups active in the EU.

  • The value of the European opiates market has been estimated at approximately EUR 12 billion
  • The estimated use of cannabis, the most popular drug in the EU, amounts to 2 000 tonnes per year
  • In 2014, 682 000 seizures of cannabis were reported in the EU
  • Cocaine is the second most widely used drug in the EU: in 2014 EU Member States seized more than 61 tonnes of it
  • The internet (web and darknet) has emerged in the last couple of years as an online marketplace for drugs

Drugs consumption

  • At least 83.9 million Europeans reported having used cannabis at least once in their lifetime
  • Over 17 million Europeans have used cocaine and 12.1 million have used amphetamines
  • 1.3 million adults are problem opioid users
  • It is estimated that at least 6 800 overdose deaths occurred in the European Union in 2014
  • 2.4 newly reported HIV diagnoses per million citizens can be attributed to injecting drugs
  • Illicit drugs are often used in combination with licit substances such as alcohol and tobacco. This is referred to as poly-drug use

Drugs availability

  • In 2015, 98 psychoactive substances were detected for the first time
  • In 2014, almost 50 000 seizures of new psychoactive substances were made across Europe, amounting to almost 4 tones
  • 2014 saw 31 785 cases of seizures of heroin, 77 767 of cocaine, 43 949 of amphetamines and 16 656 of MDMA, in the European Union

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