A new survey has shown that cannabis and ecstasy use were the most impacted by coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Europe over the last two years.
The European Web Survey on Drugs found that of the 48469 respondents who reported having used at least one illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the survey, 93% reported having consumed cannabis.
Only alcohol use (94%) was found to be more common, while MDMA/ecstasy (35%), cocaine (35%) and amphetamines (28%) were the next most commonly reported illicit substances.
One fifth (20%) of the sample reported using LSD in the last year while 16% reported use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and 13% use of ketamine during the period. Heroin use was reported by 3% of respondents.
EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel said: “Web surveys are a key ingredient in our monitoring of Europe’s shifting drugs problem. They help us reach an important target population through innovative online methods.
“Today’s results reveal the wide variety of drugs available across Europe and provide valuable information on emerging trends and changing patterns of use during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The motivations to use different drugs varied. While cannabis participants said the main reason was to reduce stress, those who were taking MDMA were doing so for its euphoric (high) effects.
The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on how people used drugs. While people reported having used more (herbal) cannabis, MDMA, cocaine and amphetamines were used less – the results were in strong correlation with the various European lockdowns over the last two years.
The researchers noted: “While web surveys are not representative of the general population when carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods, they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe.
“As such, they are a key ingredient in the EMCDDA’s responsiveness to an ever-shifting drugs problem.”