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Psychoactive substances, users and markets: recent trends (2016-2017)


Since 1999, the OFDT TREND scheme (Emerging Trends and New Drugs) has been monitoring current trends and those concerning emerging phenomena in the field of drugs. Based on the network of eight local TREND coordination schemes, it aims to identify, but also to understand the changes at work affecting user profiles, patterns and contexts of use and sale, together with the characteristics of substances and harms associated with their use.

Tendances No 123 (8 p.) presents the key findings of the seventeenth observation period, which focuses on 2016 and early 2017. Three aspects are highlighted as these correspond to new or recurrent situations which are a cause for concern on a health and social level: the purity and new-found accessibility of cocaine in France; the specific problem relating to unaccompanied minors1, who are made even more vulnerable by substance use behaviours; and the growing geographical areas with renewed heroin trafficking, now with a substance more appealing to users. The second part will touch on the continuation of phenomena already described in previous years: the spread of chemsex practices2; the extreme poverty facing homeless users; the newly blurred boundaries between diverse populations liable to facilitate the diffusion of psychotropic substance use; the ever-increasing violence in trafficking; the continuing changes in cannabis supply and, lastly, an update on new psychoactive substances. Other aspects will finally be touched on more briefly; these concern cannabis, fentanyl derivatives and the continuing growth in demand for paraphernalia for smoking crack.

Despite the significant changes in drug use and drug markets since the beginning of the 2000s, the already established phenomena seem particularly worrying. In particular, contrary to expectations at the beginning of the decade, NPS have not yet revolutionised the drugs sector in mainland France. The long-term use of some of these substances has, however, become established, notably with the radical increase in high-risk behaviours related to chemsex practices.

The 2016-2017 period is notably characterised by "classical" substance use and problems driven by contextual factors, which are always difficult to control, whether concerning the profitability of trafficking or the socio-economic crisis. Hence, the growing proportion of the herbal cannabis market; intensified cocaine diffusion; the changes in the heroin market; or the renewed popularity of ecstasy tablets among younger populations, as well as the precarious living conditions facing the homeless display a certain degree of continuity compared to previous years.

"25x-NBOMe" type molecules - Available information on the diffusion of a class of NPS in France


Within the vast category of new psychoactive substances, 25x-NBOMe or NBOMe represents a group of compounds in the phenethylamine family, which mainly has a hallucinogenic and psychedelic effect in particular. These compounds, which are sometimes sold and used instead of LSD, have emerged on the French market over the past five years.

Based on the different activities carried out by the TREND-SINTES schemes and the I-TREND European project, this summary attempts to explain how 25x-NBOMe were able to attract obvious interest among certain users. It describes the way in which these substances have established a presence in France, according to a relatively symbolic diffusion pattern for new hallucinogenic substances. This analysis also focuses on the prospects for changes and the limits of their presence on French territory. Lastly, it presents and describes their inherent challenges and problems, particularly in relation to health.

Captagon: deconstructing the myth


Issue n°10 of Drugs, international challenges was prepared by an EMCDDA specialist of drug supply issues, reflecting both organisations’ common objective of putting the available evidence into perspective so as to shed light on little known or misconstrued problems.
This issue deals with a sensitive issue: captagon, a drug that has made big headlines in France and in many other countries since the terrorist attacks of November 2015.
Based on important field work in Lebanon and on the analysis of a large body of literature, this issue offers reliable answers to some questions and suggests directions for further research on aspects where evidence is lacking, all the while steering well clear of fanciful speculation.
It thus puts the so-called “terrorist drug” to the test, and offers a sensible, dispassionate overview resulting in a reasoned analysis of an ill-understood phenomenon at the source of much confusion.

CAARUD client profiles and practices in 2015


Support centres for the reduction of drugrelated harms (CAARUDs) are designed to carry out harm reduction measures aimed at psychoactive substance users. Tendances No 120 presents the 2015 results of a national survey of users attending these centres, named “ENa-CAARUD”.

French National Report 2017


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 2017 report is divided in 10 workbooks: Drug Policy, Legal Framework, Drugs, Prevention, Treatment, Best Practice, Harms and Harm Reduction, Drug Market and Crime, Prison and Research.

Cannabis regulations in the United States


Although cannabis is still prohibited at federal level, 8 American states and the District of Columbia have made unprecedented changes to their cannabis regulations with the legalisation of cultivation, sale, possession and use of cannabis for non-medical (i.e. recreational) purposes from the age of 21.

This memo describes the regulatory models instituted in the American states in which cannabis has been legalised, highlighting both the similarities and differences in the regulations. It then examines the processes and common features of legalising states.

Analysis of drugs in sewage - An approach to assess substance use, applied to a prison setting


The objective of this report is to present the method and its application in the specific context of a university  research project initiated in 2015 in a prison setting. An initial feasibility study was conducted in three prisons in  France. The first results, together with the difficulties encountered, the limitations and ethical considerations will  be developed in order to generate all of the aspects necessary to understanding and interpreting these types of  analyses.

Drugs, key data 2017


Since 2007, OFDT has been publishing Drugs, Key Data, an overall perspective digest with the most recent and detailed facts and figures. The 7th issue, an 9-page document produced in 2017, 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 2017.

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.

Tobacco smoking and tobacco cessation in 2016


The review on tobacco and tobacco smoking indicators in France brings together recent figures which vary in nature and origin. The annual 2016 review on tobacco has been drawn up from the monthly reports and presents them as a concise overview.

While 2015 was characterised by the first rise in tobacconist network sales since 2010, this trend reversed in 2016. Official sales are on the decline and have more or less reached their 2014 level.
Sales of smoking cessation treatments are on the increase (+ 16.5%), the main treatments still being oral substitutes ahead of patches, accounting for more than 90% of the market.

Psychoactive substances, users and markets: recent trends (2015-2016)


Since 1999, the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) scheme of the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) has been monitoring recent and emerging phenomena in the field of drug use. Tendances n° 115 summarises the main developments marking the sixteenth year of observation conducted by the network comprising seven sites (Bordeaux, Lille, Marseille, Metz, Paris, Rennes and Toulouse) extended to Lyon in 2016.

The first part, dedicated to the changing contexts and practices relating to substance use, touches on the recreational scene, strategic venues for certain types of substance use and the development of "chemsex" among part of the gay community. The analysis then focuses on the transformations in trafficking, marked by a rise in violence and the need for traffickers to seek out users who are increasingly reluctant to frequent traditional dealing sites. Lastly, the last part of this edition deals with the substances, particularly MDMA/ecstasy and its growing success, medications containing codeine and opioids (with the emergence of first-time users among individuals without a history of illicit drug use), crack and its expanding market in and beyond the Île-de-France region, and the still somewhat limited diffusion of new psychoactive substance (NPS) use.

Legislations on narcotics in Europe in 2016: common points and differences


On 19 April this year, during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) special session, the UN proposed a "non-binding" resolution to make more room for the health and social sector and prevention than strict repression in the management of the drug "problem". Back in 2001, Portugal decided to replace penal sanctions with medical/social measures in response to substance use offences and certain cases of drug possession (see below). Uruguay along with certain American States (such as Colorado, Alaska and Washington State, for example) legalised1 cannabis in 2013.

European legislation, although presenting many similarities, does not have a uniform stance towards the repressive approach to the drug phenomenon. What differences and common elements can be identified by comparing the different legislation? What is the position of the legal systems based on the scale ranging from health and social measures to the punitive approach? Which have the most severe criminalisation regimes and which are the most lenient?

The OFDT issued a report on these matters, structured in three parts. It first presents the international legislative framework established by the United Nations and the European Union. It then compares the different legal systems in the 28 countries of the European Union and Norway. In conclusion, the report focuses on the special case relating to new psychoactive substances (NPS), the development of which is putting the legislative systems in the different countries to the test.

Young people and Addictions: an overview


Over the past twenty years, numerous undertakings by the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) have focused on juvenile behaviours. A collective OFDT publication entitled Jeunes et addictions has just been published in French. This study of substance use throughout adolescence and early adulthood is essential as this is when certain addictive behaviours begin and can sometimes become established, based on initiation and experiences. This collective publication provides an analysis of psychoactive substance use and its impact according to a continuum covering nearly 15 years of life: from 11 to 25 years, i.e. approximately 12 million individuals in France. Tendances n° 114 provides a summary of this publication.

Overview of CAARUDs in 2014


The support centres for the reduction of drug-related harms (CAARUDs) represent a central aspect of the policy on harm reduction measures in France. These 144 centres are aimed at vulnerable populations exposed to major risk due to their substance use habits. Their missions are to prevent and reduce harm related to substance use and to improve the social situation of users. In order to achieve this, professionals inform users on the risks of the various substances and patterns of use, distribute sterile single-use supplies (syringes, crack pipes, snorting paraphernalia, injection and inhalation kits, etc.) and promote access to care and social entitlements. CAARUDs also carry out "social mediation" activities with a view to facilitating integration within their environment.

For the first time since this monitoring instrument was created, analysis of the 2014 CAARUD activity reports offers a comprehensive overview of the geographical coverage of the scheme, the resources used and the intervention capacities of the facilities. The CAARUDs play a central role in distributing prevention material, alone responsible for more than half (55%) of the syringes dispensed to injecting drug users. Although the true needs of drug users are difficult to identify, the difference in the situations is striking: location of CAARUDs restricted to large cities, varying and often fairly restricted opening times, very low representation of the female population. Although all CAARUDs everywhere share the same missions, the small teams in certain facilities, and the lack or inconsistency of professional qualifications at many facilities raise questions as to whether all users can have access to the same level of harm reduction services.

Drugs in Europe

2017 EMCDDA European Drug Report

miniEDR2017EN.jpgWhat 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 2017 EMCDDA European Drug Report.

  Country drug reports 2017

miniCountryProfiles.jpgDeveloped 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

miniFAQDrugsEurope.jpgThe European Union & the drug phenomenon : Frequently asked questions, joint publication between the EMCDDA and the European Commission, october 2010, 12 p.