Behind the numbers: Drug use in Europe

Article published on April 18, 2016
Article published on April 18, 2016

Last week, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition (EMCDDA), in association with Europol, published a report on the impact of the market for banned substances on European society in 2016. The size of the data is enough to make your head spin: EU citizens spend more than 24 billion euros on illegal drugs per year.

The drug market in Europe is not to be sniffed at. The report by the EMCDDA, presented to Brussels on Thursday the 5th of April, reports on the extent of the European drug market – and the numbers are as high as the survey respondents. One stat in particular caught our attention: EU citizens spend 24 billion euros on illegal drugs each year.

No, you're not hallucinating. According to the authors of the study, this proves that the drugs trade remains "one of the principal threats to EU security". That 24 billion euros represent far more than dodgy deals in dark stairwells that fuel the personal habits of residents of the Union. The EMCDDA, who were supported by Europol, emphasise that the market extends to other forms of organised criminal activity – including terrorism. The report points out that recently radicalised young people often have prior involvement in petty criminal activity; the consumption and pushing of drugs predates their involvement in wider criminal or terrorist networks.

A long way ahead of the others, the cannabis market represented around 38% of the total drug trade in 2013, behind heroin (28%), cocaine (24%), amphetamines (8%) and ecstasy (3%). 1% of adult Europeans consume cannabis daily. Delving deeper into the stats reveals that 22 million Europeans have taken the drug over the course of the last year.

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This article is part of our Behind the Numbers series, illustrating newsworthy stats with artistic design and a brief analysis.