Illicit drugs


Drug abuse is a key public health and social concern throughout the EU and beyond. Most forms of drug use are levelling off, but 6 500–8 500 drug-related deaths still occur every year.

Drug policy and EU law

Under Article 168 of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU action shall be directed towards improving public health, preventing physical and mental illness and diseases, and obviating sources of danger to physical and mental health.

The EU shall complement the Member States' action in reducing drugs-related health damage, including information and prevention.

European strategy on drugs

The EU drugs strategy 2005-2012 seeks to protect public health and promote social cohesion by preventing and reducing drug use. It focuses on the two key dimensions of drug policy – reducing demand and supply – and has three cross-cutting themes: coordination, international cooperation and information, research and evaluation.

Action plans

The EU drugs action plan 2009-2012 sets ambitious targets and identifies 72 actions to significantly reduce illegal drug use and the resulting social and health damage.

Advice for EU countries

In a recommendation on drug dependence (2003), the EU Council advised member countries to reduce drug-related deaths and health damage by developing strategies to prevent drug-related harm.

The Commission has issued a report on implementation of the recommendation (2007).

Comprehensive approach

The EU recommendation, strategy and action plans represent an integrated, multidisciplinary and balanced approach to reduce demand and supply. They take into account:

• different risk levels associated with different forms of drug use (e.g. polydrug use)

• age of users and other specifics

• the Commission's Youth Health Initiative .