Drug Use Increases In Europe: Young Czechs First In Europe For Cannabis Consumption
The availability of drugs in European Union countries remains high, and in some cases is higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to this year’s report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Photo credit: Freepik
Czech Republic, June 16 (BD) – Following disruption to the illicit drug market from 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, consumption of some substances has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Cannabis is by far the most widely used narcotic substance in the European Union, with the next most prevalent, cocaine and ecstasy, a distant second. In the Czech Republic, cannabis use is extremely prevalent, as well as LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
“Established drugs have never been more available and new potent substances continue to emerge (on the markets),” said EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeel. According to the agency’s findings, 52 new psychotropic substances emerged among drug consumers last year, including 15 new synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic opioids and six synthetic cathinones.
The pandemic caused other significant changes to the drug trade and culture; consumers and dealers were forced to make greater use of technology, such as encrypted communication platforms, and the lockdowns reduced the availability of drug addiction treatment, though this is now gradually returning to pre-pandemic normal as measures are relaxed in most countries.
The EMCDDA estimates that around 30% of EU citizens aged 15 to 64 have tried at least one banned substance in their lifetime. The most commonly used substance is cannabis, which 79 million people have tried at least once in their lifetime. In the past year, 22 million people (7% of the EU population) have used cannabis at least once. Among young people aged 15 to 34, the figure was 15.5%. The Czech Republic has the highest rate of use in this age category; 23% of young Czechs have used cannabis in the last year.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are also very popular among young people in the Czech Republic. Around 5% of people aged 15 to 34 have used them at least once in the past year. The EU average is below 1%. The Czech Republic also has the highest rate of at-risk methamphetamine (crystal meth) users – 4.84 per 1,000 inhabitants.
In the past decade, the amount of methamphetamine seized has increased nearly sixfold and amphetamine seizures have increased fivefold. According to the EMCDDA, this indicates the growing role of Europe as a producer, market and transit area for these substances.