18.7 million young adults between the ages of 15 and 34 are said to have consumed illegal drugs during the course of the last year, according to estimations in the 2017 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. This figure reflects attitudes ranging from experimentation to regular consumption of one or several substances.
In fact, the illegal drug trade in Europe remains significant and is “supported simultaneously by domestic production and drugs derived from trafficking from other regions in the world," the report claims. In a state of constant evolution, the drugs trade benefits most of all from the contribution of new technologies. Platforms bearing “similar characteristics to online markets such as Ebay or Amazon” are developing on the dark web, where consumers “can research and compare products and suppliers.”
The data showing the amount of drugs seized over the period of a year also show the types of products available in Europe. Over a million drug seizures are carried out per year in Europe. In most cases they are small quantities, but can also be sizeable packs weighing several kilos. Cannabis made up 71% of all drug seizures in 2015. Being the main entry route to Europe, Spain was responsible for 70% of those seizures, followed by Turkey and other transit countries in the European market. Cocaine, amphetamines and heroin came after cannabis.
How do young people use drugs?
As far as drug habits are concerned, the report points to a “use of multiple drugs (…) which is commonplace among users” and habits range from “experimentation, to regular use and dependence." Regardless of the substance, consumption is more widespread among men than among women.
Habits vary in different European countries. Cannabis, unalterable on the market, remains the most common drug to be consumed. The rate of prevalence among young adults varies from 3.3% in Romania to 22% in France, according to the most recent data. Consumption of other drugs such as heroin or amphetamines is much rarer. It remains however one of the most dangerous modes of consumption.