Users, markets and psychoactive substances: recent developments (2018-2019)
Since 1999, the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) unit of the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) has been monitoring emerging trends and phenomena in the field of drugs. It focuses on populations that mostly consume psychoactive substances and is based on qualitative data collected by the network of TREND sites located in eight metropolitan areas.
The developments observed in 2018 confirm those highlighted in previous years. With regard to users, the living conditions of the most marginalised are deteriorating, as observed cyclically, especially in the case of young people and/or migrants. Some networks are rationalising their activities by adopting the organisational methods of traditional companies: marketing strategies, reducing stock, making the workforce more flexible, etc. At the same time, the diversity of available products is steadily rising and consumption of substances previously confined to certain environments (ketamine, GHB-GBL, nitrous oxide) is expanding.
Exposure to alcohol marketing among 17-year-olds
In France, despite legal restrictions on authorised media and content, alcohol advertising is subject to significant private investment.
In order to measure exposure to alcohol marketing as perceived by adolescents, the OFDT has developed a set of questions (the French Alcohol Marketing Exposure Scale, FAMES) that can be used in general population surveys among adolescents. Introduced during the 2015 ESPAD survey, this module was revised and then offered to a representative sample of 17-year-olds in the ESCAPAD survey in 2017.
Tendances No. 135 reports on the responses of 10 591 girls and boys aged 17 who recalled an advertisement for an alcoholic beverage. It first explores the level of remembrance of the last alcohol advertisement seen or heard by young people, as well as certain factors likely to influence their consumption (attractiveness or incentive, proximity of the product). The issue then looks at the different environments where young people report being exposed to marketing. The comparisons presented illustrate significant statistical differences.
Direct drug-related deaths - Assessment of their number in France and recent developments
The epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in the United States highlights the issue of drug-related deaths. In response to the crisis on the other side of the Atlantic, the public authorities are mobilising in France and Europe to prevent any developments that could lead to this kind of situation. Beyond this specific concern, reducing these premature and preventable deaths, even when they appear to be fewer in number than in other countries, remains a major challenge for public policy in the field of drugs. In this context, it seems more necessary than ever to assess the number of deaths related to illicit drugs and opioid medications (substitution medecines or analgesics) in France.
What data is available? What are the limitations? What trends are emerging? These issues were already addressed in Tendances in 2010. At that time, drug-related deaths were still fully assimilated with overdose deaths by drug users. The concern today is also the deaths of people who have been prescribed opioids to treat pain. Tendances No. 133 is an update on direct drug-related deaths, as well as an update on their variation in numbers up to 2015-2017. It also explores possible explanations for these variations.
Drugs and drug addictions in France - overview on recent trends and perspectives
Drugs and addictive behaviour represent major public health and safety issues, whether in terms of preventing health and social harm or combatting trafficking. This publication provides an update on the addiction situation in France, offering an overview of evidence-based data and outlining the most recent developments, five years after the previous edition.
Over the past two decades, the field of addiction expanded considerably. Moving beyond licit (alcohol, tobacco) or illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine, cannabis, etc.), the concept of "addiction" has been extended to "behavioural addictions" (interactive screens and video games, gambling, etc.) which are likely to cause disorders similar to abuse or addiction.
How many people use drugs in France and how many are experiencing difficulties with their use? What is the extent of behavioural addictions today? What are the main developments in the supply of psychoactive substances? How are public policy responses structured?
This overview also offers areas for reflection based on recent developments in the field.
Levels of screen use at the end of adolescence in France in 2017
In 2017, in order to contribute to reflection on so-called "substance-free" addictions among adolescents, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) integrated a new module on the use of various electronic devices with screens into its Survey on Health and Use on National Defence and Citizenship Day (ESCAPAD).
This memo reports the main results on the issue of the amount of time 17-year-olds spend on screens, distinguishing between the different types: televisions, game consoles, computers, tablets and mobile phones. Furthermore, in an exploratory and transversal approach to the various different kinds of screens, the memo focuses on the relationship between adolescents and social networks in terms of excessive use, as well as their ability to disconnect from their mobile phones.
Cannabis legalisation in the United States - Towards a regulated market?
This memo describes the regulatory models that have been implemented since 2014 in the American states that have legalised cannabis, highlighting their differences and similarities. It also discusses the reform processes and common features of states that have legalised cannabis for medical and recreational use.
After five full years of reform in Colorado and Washington State (2014-2018), first outcomes can be reported - although it is not clear whether they are directly attributable to cannabis being legalised. The most significant effects relate to the quick and large-scale industrial expansion of the cannabis supply chain. However, this economic boom has also seen the emergence of three public health concerns:
- The substance is now aimed at all population profiles, from people who have never tried it to regular users and from young people to seniors. The increase in supply and its diversification have increased the incentives to use it, which is only made worse by marketing strategies emphasising cannabis’ "therapeutic virtues" or its dimension of socialisation.
- The increase in the number of emergency calls and hospitalisations following acute intoxication highlights the difficulty of effectively regulating substances put on the market (particularly in terms of the concentration of active ingredients). At the same time, cannabis-related treatment demands have declined.
- The decline in both the perceived dangerousness of cannabis and retail prices have led to it becoming more accessible and the substance being "normalised" which, according to public health stakeholders, could ultimately increase the risks and harm associated with its use (particularly among the younger generation).
Drugs: perceptions of substances, public policies and users
Since 1999, the OFDT has been quantifying the opinions and perceptions of the French population on drugs and related public policies through the EROPP survey (Survey on representations, opinions and perceptions regarding psychoactive drugs). For this fifth edition, a sample of 2 001 individuals, representing the French population aged 18 to 75, was selected based on quota sampling. The survey makes it possible to see how opinions are structured around issues in the public debate but also to consider how opinions in France have developed over the last twenty years. For continuity, most of the themes studied in previous surveys have been kept (for example, the perceived dangerousness of different psychoactive substances, the representation of heroin users and opinions on drug legislation). In addition, questions on current topics and new issues have been added.
In 2018, the EROPP survey focused on five psychoactive substances: tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and heroin. Tendances No. 131 first discusses drug-related knowledge and how dangerous they are perceived to be. Secondly, it reports on individuals’ adherence to public policies that are currently in force or being discussed in France or in other countries. Finally, a final section summarises cannabis users’ opinions through a classification that groups together individuals with similar views. Where possible, the results are compared with those from previous surveys.
2019 report about drugs in France
Each year, like all the other Reitox focal points in Europe, the OFDT submits to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) its national report on the state of the drug phenomenon in France.
The report is now divided in 10 workbooks: Drug Policy, Legal Framework, Drugs, Prevention, Treatment, Best Practice, Harms and Harm Reduction, Drug Market and Crime, Prison and Research. The 2019 report is available for downloading.
Female-oriented programmes in addiction care
As a minority in specialised care services, French women presenting with addictions represent 23% and 18% of the public seen in specialised drug treatment centres (CSAPA) and harm reduction facilities (CAARUD) respectively. However, these women show, more than men, many social and health vulnerability factors (suicidal history, psychiatric comorbidity and an abnormally high death rate related to drug use, single parenthood, violence, etc.) and report a greater fear of being stigmatised. When facing these situations, which can be exacerbated during pregnancy or when children are involved, addiction care services have sometimes developed specific care arrangements to meet women's needs. These specific answers take various forms: from ad hoc interventions to the implementation of a framework of follow-up and appropriate care. In 2018, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) launched the Ad-femina online survey to provide an overview of addiction schemes tailored specifically to women in 2017 in France. The results are provided in Tendances No. 130.
About 2,650 women were seen in 80 schemes in 2017, a modest number compared to around 72,000 women who annually attend CSAPAs and CAARUDs. Like all women received in specialised services, these beneficiaries are mainly polydrug users, often misuse alcohol and have social and health vulnerabilities, deterring them from asking for care. Finding ways to get them into care as early as possible and keeping regular contact with them are some of the main challenges faced by the teams.
Drugs, Key data 2019
Since 2007, OFDT has been publishing Drugs, Key Data, an overall perspective digest with the most recent and detailed facts and figures. This 8th issue, a 10-page document produced in 2019, is released to mark International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. It provides the most relevant figures in order to measure and present a quick overview of the French drug-related phenomena in 2019.
This document summarises for the main substances the levels of use observed in the French population as a whole. Then, it provides detailed information on use, treatment, health and social consequences as well as trafficking data per product. When possible, trends in these areas are provided.
Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use among French school students in 2018
In 2018, two major international school surveys Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) and European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), were carried out simultaneously for the first time in France, using a unified methodological framework. More than 20,000 middle school and high school students, representing 11 to 18-year-old adolescents attending secondary school in metropolitan France, were invited to answer an online questionnaire in class on their well-being and health behaviours, including their use of psychoactive substances. This scheme, which is unprecedented in Europe, makes it possible to measure this use among all students from Grade 6 to 12. Tendances No. 132 presents the prevalence of experimentation and use of the three most widely used substances during adolescence: alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, by school grade.
While adolescence is the main period where alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are experimented with, the timing and progression of substance use vary:
- Alcohol, which is mainly experimented with during middle school, is still the first substance used during adolescence, followed by tobacco.
- Cannabis, which begins to take off at the end of middle school, sees its experimentation and use develop and strengthen mainly during high school. It is still the most common illegal product, lifetime use of other illegal substances remaining really low.
EnCLASS data also confirms the wide accessibility to the products, despite the fact that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alcohol to minors.
Psychoactive substances, users and markets: 2017-2018 trends
Since 1999, the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) scheme of the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) has been monitoring emerging trends and phenomena in the field of drugs in order to limit the time between their occurrence and their consideration by the public authorities. The TREND scheme therefore provides a focus on people with high uses of psychoactive products. It is mainly based on qualitative data collected by the TREND sites network, located in eight metropolitan areas.
Tendances No. 129 highlights the developments that have particularly marked 2017 and the beginning of 2018:
- the impact of the unprecedented accessibility to cocaine, including in the form of crack cocaine,
- the fluidity between techno scenes and the crossovers of different party populations,
- the increase in the visibility of GHB-GBL use in party settings with lots of incidences of intoxication,
- the trivialisation of popper use in increasingly diverse user groups,
- and finally, the slowing down of the emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS), while their distribution seems to be focused on specific user profiles.
The second part is about continuing phenomena that have already been described in previous years, but that are still thriving: the integration of "chemsex" practices, the popularity of ecstasy tablets, the increase in the availability and visibility of ketamine use and the dynamic heroin supply.
Tobacco smoking and tobacco cessation in 2018
In the wake of the 2017 findings, the year 2018 was marked by a sharp decline in cigarette and of roll-your-own tobacco sales in France’s tobacconist network. However, a slight increase in other types of tobacco, less heavily taxed, can be seen, together with a likely increase in cross-border purchases.
In addition, all indicators related to quitting smoking are noticeably on the up, even more so than in 2017. Sales of treatments to help people quit smoking are at an all-time high, boosted by the implementation during the year of the systematic and non-capped reimbursement of prescribed tobacco cessation treatments. Moreover, use of the Tobacco Information Service telephone helpline/website continues to intensify and the third edition of #MoisSansTabac has confirmed the operation’s status as a highlight for smoking cessation among French smokers. Read our memo.
Drugs in Europe
What do the latest data tell us about the European drug market? What are the new trends in drug use among European adults and school students? What are the harms associated with drug use and what is being done to counter them? These and other questions are explored in the 2019 EMCDDA European Drug Report.
Country drug reports 2019
Developed by the EMCDDA, in cooperation with the Reitox national focal points, these graphic-rich reports cover: drug use and public health problems; drug policy and responses and drug supply.
The European Union and the drug phenomenon
The European Union & the drug phenomenon : Frequently asked questions, joint publication between the EMCDDA and the European Commission, october 2010, 12 p.