Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Drug Abuse in Western Europe


According to collected data and other indicators, the number of heroin abusers declined by about a third while the number of cocaine abusers doubled since 1985. Drug related deaths increased and are attributed to a rise in multiple drug abuse (one third of the drug related deaths reported in 1989 are due to overdose of sedative-hypnotics), deteriorating physical, psychological and social conditions, suicide, AIDS and other drug related diseases. The total number of drug related offences has declined between 1984 and 1990 (5,053 in 1984,  4,829 in 1990). Drug seizures in 1990 rose by one third to 1,990; cannabis seizures tripled and those of cocaine doubled. Heroin seized decreased mainly due to fewer large scale seizures (Austria 1991).


An increase in multiple drug abuse is reported for 1991. Cocaine abuse increased slightly whereas heroin abuse remained stable. Abuse of MDMA in the North appears to be increasing. An increase in the abuse of anabolic steroids not in connection with sports is noted (U.N. 1991).


Drug abuse in France appear to be on an upwards trend according to arrests and seizure data. Drug related arrests increased by 2.10 per cent between 1989 and 1990 (table 1). The number of people charged with abuse and/or dealing in heroin decreased by 15 per cent since 1987. A similar trend was observed for cocaine (24 per cent less than in 1989). Cannabis related arrests, however, increased by 8.36 per cent. A decrease in opium related arrests observed since 1986, was confirmed in 1990 (0.26 per cent in 1986 of all abusers compared to 0.1 per cent in 1990) (Statistiques 1989 and 1990). The number of drug seizures and their size increased between 1989 and 1990 (see table 2 and France 1991).


Survey data indicates to an increase in drug abuse life time prevalence in the former FRG, for those 12 to 29 of age, from 12.1 per cent in 1986 to 16.1 per cent in 1990. Whereas the 12-17 age group showed no significant increase, that of the 18 to 29 showed a disproportional increase (CMO 1990).

            The percentage of annual abusers (aged 12 to 29) increased from 4.5 per cent in 1986 to 6.2 per cent in 1990. There are nearly constant values for the group 12 to 17 years old but an increase for abusers 18 to 29 years of age (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Based on 1989 out-patient new admissions data, there is an increase in abuse of heroin and cocaine in the older age group (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            According to the response of Germany to the Annual Report Questionnaire for 1991, abuse of opiate, cocaine and cannabis type of drugs have shown some increase in 1991, while that of sedative types and volatile solvents has been on the decrease. Abuse of amphetamine types and hallucinogens are reported stable (U.N. 1991).


The drug abuse problem is reported to have worsened in the second half the 1980s and stabilized at a high level since (Luxembourg 1991). An increase in the abuse of cocaine, cannabis and in particular, heroin was reported for 1992. The street price of heroin and cocaine decreased due to increasing availability. A large decrease in abuse of hallucinogens, and to a lesser extent that of amphetamines, was reported for 1992. Sedative type drug abuse remained stable (U.N. 1992).


According to survey data lifetime and current abuse of cannabis increased slightly between 1984 and 1988. The greatest increase in abuse among those 15 years of age or older. The age of first abuse of cannabis among students increased from the 13 through 14 years age group in 1984 to the 15 through 16 years age group in 1988/1989. Cocaine abuse appears low and stable in urban areas. Crack abuse is negligible (see table 1) (Plomp, H.N. et al. 1991).

            Drug abuse increased among those of relatively disadvantaged socio-economic background, particularly among ethnic minorities from Morocco and Turkey (Ministry of Welfare et al. 1991).



In 1992, heroin, cocaine and benzodiazepine abuse are reported stable, and a large decrease in cannabis abuse has been noted, mainly due to changes in attitudes towards drugs (U.N. 1992).



Survey data show that occasional abuse of illicit drugs by young people under 15 years of age has remained stable in the last ten years (Office fיdיral de la santי publique, 1990). According to cantons' estimates, the number of cannabis and heroin/cocaine abusers doubled since 1985 (WHO 1992). Arrests for drug consumption has increase by 37 per cent between 1991 and 1992. Drug related deaths increased from 405 in 1991 to 419 in 1992 (Police 1991, 1992). Consumption of synthetic drugs and crack is marginal (Office fיdיral de la santי publique 1990). Multiple drug abuse (cocaine and heroin and use of alcohol) increased according to a study among abusers in treatment (Switzerland 1991).