1999-2019: changes in drug use and supply in France through the experience of the OFDT's TREND scheme
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) scheme and the National Detection System of Drugs and Toxic Substances (SINTES), the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) looks back on two decades of drug monitoring. An issue of the Théma collection1 published in September 2020 observed the major transformations that have taken place in the field of illicit and misused substances that these two schemes have been able to identify and analyse. After detailing the principles of the TREND-SINTES organisation and its adaptation to changes in practices, uses and contexts, this summary describes the main phenomena observed.
Psychoactive substances, users and markets - Recent trends (2019-2020)
Since 1999, the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) scheme of the OFDT has been monitoring emerging phenomena and developments in the field of drugs. It focuses on populations with a high level of psychoactive substance consumption and is based on qualitative data collected by the network of TREND sites located in eight metropolitan areas. The trends presented in Tendances No. 141 cover the year 2019 and the first two months of 2020.
The issue looks first at the continuing deterioration in the socio-sanitary situations of the most vulnerable users, then at the spread of use in techno party settings, particularly of ketamine and MDMA/ecstasy, and the issue of access to harm reduction. The second part deals with changes in supply, especially the development of home deliveries, and the third part deals with the use of psychoactive products that marked the year 2019.
20 years of developments in drug use among adolescents in Europe
Two major surveys, conducted every 4 years for the past 25 years in the adolescent population, allow for an international comparison of drug use: the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey, under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), conducted with the support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology (IFC).
This issue of Tendances looks back at the main findings of these two surveys, with updated reports published in 2020. With a strong emphasis on mapping and infographics (some sources are available in the appendix), it offers an overview of European developments in adolescents’ initiation into and consumption of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis between the ages of 13 and 16 (including a box on other illicit drugs and the use of electronic cigarettes in 2019), over almost a quarter of a century.
Georgia and illicit drugs: trafficking, use and public policies
The thirteenth issue of Drugs, International Challenges is devoted to the prevailing situation in terms of drug trafficking, drug use and public policies in Georgia, a Caucasian country with a population of 3.7 million.
Georgia is currently facing a number of challenges regarding the issue of illicit drugs in a tense geopolitical context30. First and foremost, safety is a major challenge since it is located at the crossroads of the Afghan heroin routes leading to the Russian Federation and the European Union.
Health issues also are challenging because of the high prevalence of HCV and HIV among its population as a result of the opioid epidemic and the toll paid by Georgian drug addicts due to the drug control policy pursued until recently.
Impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on cannabis users in France. Results of the 2020 Cannabis Online survey
The introduction of lockdown measures by the public authorities between 17 March and 11 May 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in France yielded dramatic changes in consumption practices of cannabis users. The OFDT set up, in the period following lockdown, a quantitative online survey of cannabis users recruited via the social network Facebook. The aim of this survey is to gain a better understanding of the patterns of cannabis use in France and the impact of lockdown on practices.
The results underline that a majority of cannabis users continued to use in the exceptional circumstances of lockdown, even though a large proportion of them changed their use behaviour. The survey shows an increase in the use of cannabis during lockdown, particularly among the most regular users, which is reflected both in an increase in the number of joints smoked on one occasion and in more frequent morning and earlier daytime use. Contrary to fear of a generalised shortage, the accessibility of cannabis remained significant in this period.
Furthermore, while some respondents reported increased consumption of alcohol or tobacco during lockdown, the transfer to other products was infrequent due to the adaptation of the cannabis market to the new constraints imposed by the situation.
Drug use in prison : practices, consequences and responses
What is the extent and nature of illicit drug use in prisons in France? What are the consequences and what responses are being provided? Published in December 2019, an issue of the OFDT's Théma collection gave an overview of existing work on these issues based on a twofold approach: a literature review allowing a retrospective over 20 years and a valorisation of the Monitoring Centre's latest productions on the subject.
The state of play drawn up by this publication shows that, despite the growing attention paid to these issues in France, data on drug use in prisons remains too disparate. It should soon be expanded by the prospects set out in the roadmap 2019-2022 concerning inmates and, in particular, the results of new epidemiological surveys.
Addictions in France during lockdown (March 17th - May 11th, 2020)
The Covid-19 pandemic is the origin of a health crisis that has led to more than 848 000 deaths worldwide in seven months, including more than 30 000 in France. Despite national variations, the pandemic led most governments to declare a state of health emergency and to take exceptional measures to limit the spread of the epidemic: restrictions on movement, closure of most places open to the public and of all international borders, general lockdown in some 50 countries, particularly within the European Union (except in the Netherlands and Sweden) and in France. Between 17 March and 11 May 2020, the entire French population was ordered to stay at home and checks on movements in public spaces were put in place. This period has resulted in changes in lifestyle, household consumption, work organisation, conditions of people’s movement, access to health care, etc. It has also affected the conditions of access to drugs (licit and illicit) and the contexts of use.
This issue of Tendances provides an overall assessment of the first effects of the health crisis and lockdown on the supply and use of psychoactive substances and gambling, supplemented by the initial results of the online survey of cannabis users conducted by the OFDT between 10 July and 7 August 2020. It provides an overview of the developments reported for the three most consumed products (alcohol, tobacco and cannabis), both from the supply point of view (availability for purchase, supply arrangements, price trends, etc.) and from the demand point of view (consumption levels, contexts and practices of use, etc.), in connection with the measures taken to control sales and limit consumption occasions (keeping tobacconists open, closing bars and restaurants). It also reports on the organisational adaptation of health care institutions and the harm reduction carried out, in real time, during this critical period.
Changes in the cannabis market in France
This report from the issue of Théma published by the OFDT in July 2019 is devoted to the changes in the cannabis market in France, particularly in relation to the increase in the use of herbal cannabis. These changes are taking place against a background of a significant increase in cannabis consumption over the last twenty years. Indeed, France is one of the countries in Europe with the highest consumption, especially in the youngest age groups. According to the latest available data (2017), 45% of 18-64-year olds and 39% of 17-year olds have experimented with the substance. In total, in 2017, there were 5 million users in the last year. Cannabis, the most commonly used illicit product, has tended to become normalised in public opinion. In 2018, 40% of those surveyed were in favour of people growing cannabis in small quantities for personal consumption. Almost two-thirds (63%) of those who have experimented with the substance have done so. The international context, marked since the 2010s by the progression of the legalisation of its use for medical and nonmedical purposes, particularly in North and South America (Canada, Uruguay, United States), is likely to influence public perception, especially among those who have experimented with the product.
For this report on the state of play of market transformations, a set of qualitative and quantitative sources have been used to describe the changes at work. First of all, the data comes from the OFDT's multisite observation scheme (TREND-SINTES) but also from statistical surveys conducted by and with the OFDT among young people (ESCAPAD, ESPAD) or adults (Health Barometer of the National Public Health Agency). The data provided by OCRTIS (Central Office for the Repression of Drug-Related Offences), now OFAST (Home Affairs Department’s Anti-Narcotics Office), at the beginning of 2020 on the organisation of seizures of cannabis plantations and products, has also been used. Finally, this analysis drew on the reports from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to place the information in an international context.
National legislation and policies to reduce alcohol-related harm in the European Union
Based mainly on data published by the WHO, this note aims to provide an overview of the main legislative and regulatory measures taken by the different EU countries to reduce harmful alcohol consumption. It also provides information on France's position in relation to other countries. The analysis focuses on five themes defined by the WHO which bring together the most important recommended measures: limiting drinking and driving and the accessibility of alcoholic beverages, making alcohol more expensive, limiting alcohol advertising and marketing, and informing consumers about the consequences of alcohol.
France is one of the countries within the EU that has adopted the largest number of measures to limit harmful alcohol consumption recommended by the WHO. There is, however, room for improvement, particularly with regard to action on alcohol prices, which, compared to other EU countries, remains low. In terms of prevention, the WHO criteria, even if very limited, show that improvements must be sought in any case.
The comparison of policies to reduce harmful alcohol consumption based on binary responses on the formal existence in each country from a set of measures is an initial piece of information. This approach would need to be complemented by evaluations of the effective implementation of these measures.
French people and gambling
Monitoring gambling practices among French adults have been carried out in France since 2010, thanks to the Santé publique France (SpF) Barometer which includes a survey component focussing on gambling activities. This issue of Tendances reports on recent changes in French gambling practices in terms of frequency, intensity and social damage. This publication is issued while gambling issues have been included into the OFDT’s institutional scope as of 1 July 2020.
Even if traditional gambling sales outlets are still largely dominant, online gambling is on the rise and concerned 16.1% of all gamblers in 2019 against 7.3% in 2014. The Internet is now the main medium for sports betting, as online gambling increased from 26.1% to 61.0%.
In 2019, fewer French people gambled than in 2014 but they are playing more intensively. It is estimated that 1.6% of players have difficulty with their practice. Between 2014 and 2019, the prevalence of moderate risk gambling and excessive gambling increased.
Drugs and addictions in overseas France - State of play and issues - Summary
The aim of the Théma issued today in French and in English (summary) is to provide an overview of the situations and problems currently observed in the French Overseas Territories with regard to drugs and addictions, based on the most recent statistical data and the main studies carried out in these territories. The French Overseas Territories include 12 territories of varied political and institutional statuses spread over several continents and three oceans (Atlantic, Indian, Pacific).
Overseas France is receiving increasingly targeted attention from public authorities, however, knowledge of the issues specific to these territories remains partial. A certain amount of data is nevertheless available and makes it possible to draw up an overview focusing on the former French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guiana, Réunion) supplemented by occasional data from New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Mayotte .
The report, as well as its summary, considers 3 major aspects :
- The large supply of drugs in Overseas France and especially the cocaine market in the French West Indies-Guiana region.
- A less widespread use than in metropolitan France but more concentrated in certain populations.
- The strong mobilisation coverage of the care provided that falls far short of needs while a significant part of the police force activity is focused on narcotics.
Cannabis sales revenue in France - A new direct estimate by expenditure
Estimating the amount of cannabis sales revenue is important and provides a measure of the influence of this economic sector. However, this exercise faces two major obstacles, since both the quantities sold and the retail prices of an illicit product remain, by definition, unknown in public statistics.
In order to get around these difficulties, the OFDT has introduced in 2017 a specific module in two general population surveys (Health Barometer and ESCAPAD) which directly questions users on the frequency of their cannabis purchases during the year and the amount of their last expenditure. If the primary objective is to renew the estimate, it is also a question of testing a calculation method that is easily reproducible and comparable over time.
This issue of Tendances, which was first published in French in March, reports on the use of these new questions asked simultaneously in these two surveys and proposes a new estimate of the cannabis market in France’s sales revenue which reached 1.2 billion euros (1.3 billion $) in 2017. The relative simplicity of this method should facilitate the integration of the questions into other surveys, particularly those conducted in other European countries, and thus make international comparisons more reliable.
Bulletin TREND COVID-19 n° 2
The development of the COVID-19 epidemic and the implementation of lockdown measures by the French public authorities in mid-March 2020 changed the consumption practices of drug users and disrupted the activities of trafficking networks.
In order to better understand these developments, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) has appealed to the eight local centres in its Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) monitoring system (Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Metz, Paris, Rennes, Toulouse).
After an initial bulletin covering the first three weeks of lockdown (from mid-March to the first week of April 2020), this updated overview includes the data collected between 7 April and 7 May in order to document in greater detail the following three themes:
- the adaptation strategies adopted by users (abstinence and forced or consensual withdrawal, overconsumption, compensation and transfers to other products, etc.);
- the ways in which health care and risk reduction facilities have changed their practices and activities in order to best pursue their missions;
- and the transformations concerning trafficking networks.
Bulletin TREND COVID-19 n° 1
The development of the COVID-19 epidemic and the implementation of lockdown measures by the French public authorities in mid-March 2020 changed the consumption practices of a large proportion of drug users and disrupted the activities of trafficking networks.
To better understand these developments, the OFDT has implemented a qualitative monitoring through the feedback from its TREND scheme and network (Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Metz, Paris, Rennes). This first information Bulletin (15 pages in French) was released on April 15. An English summary is now available online.
Tobacco smoking and tobacco cessation in 2019
The 2019 edition of the annual OFDT overview on tobacco describes the repercussions of successive rises in prices of tobacco in the tobacconist network and the continuous increase of the number of people following a treatment to stop smoking. These elements are completed by a report of the results of public surveys carried out in 2019 which witnessed a drop in smoking.
- On the whole, the total number of tobacco sales are 46 962 tonnes and the decrease in volumes sold in the French tobacconist network reaches 6.6% (on a constant number of delivery days).
- For the third consecutive year, sales of treatments to help quit smoking have rocketed and now correspond to almost 4.3 million equivalent “treated patients”, that is one third more than in 2018.
- In parallel, the prevalence of daily smoking has dropped in 2018 among adults (aged between 18 and 75 years old) and secondary school students. In comparison, the number of electronic cigarette users continues to grow among adults, and e-cig experimentation is increasing among adolescents.
Drugs in Europe
How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting drug use, supply and services?
Drug use and harms
What are the health costs of drug use in Europe today?
What do the latest data tell us about drug production and trafficking trends?
These and other questions are explored in the 2020 European Drug Report, our annual overview of the drug situation in Europe.
Statistical Bulletin 2020
The annual Statistical Bulletin contains the most recent available data on the drug situation in Europe provided by the Member States. These datasets underpin the analysis presented in the European Drug Report. All data may be viewed interactively on screen and downloaded in Excel format..
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.