Estonia leads Baltics in drug use - survey

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Photo: Tairo Lutter / SL Õhtuleht

Use of banned substances is considerably more widespread in Estonia than in Latvia and Lithuania, and above the EU average when it comes to cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy, it appears from the European Drug Report.

The analysis based predominantly on data for 2014 shows that more than a quarter of EU citizens aged 15-64, some 88 million people in all, have used narcotics. Cannabis tops the list, but many have used cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and other substances as well. Across the EU, more than 13 percent of people had had a cannabis experience. The highest rates were recorded in the Czech Republic and France where more than 20 percent of young people (15-34 years) admitted to having used cannabis in the last 12 months. Estonia came in after Finland with 13.6 percent. By comparison, the corresponding rates for Latvia and Lithuania are respectively 7.3 percent and 5.1 percent.

In terms of cocaine use, Estonia ranks below the EU average with 1.3 percent but still far above its Baltic neighbors where only 0.3 percent of the people had used cocaine.

Around 1 percent of young adults in the EU had used amphetamine and 1.7 percent had used ecstasy in the last 12 months. The level of use of amphetamine was the highest in the Netherlands at 2.9 percent. Next came Estonia with 2.5 percent, Finland with 2.4 percent and the Czech Republic with 2.3 percent. By contrast, the percentage was 0.5 percent in Lithuania and 0.6 percent in Latvia.

The report pointed at a revival of ecstasy as a drug of choice for young people in Europe. Use in Estonia was on a par with France at 2.3 percent. In Latvia 0.8 percent and in Lithuania 0.3 percent of young people had used ecstasy.

Heroin and other opioids are the main reason for overdose deaths. While heroin remains the most commonly used opioid in Europe, many nations have cause to worry about increasing use of synthetic opioids such as buprenorphine, methadone, fentanyl and tramadol. The levels of use differ between countries, but the proportion of opioid users has been on the decline in most countries over the past decade.

The report analyzing the trends and developments of drug use in Europe was drawn up by the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.