The impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on drug use in Europe

The impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on drug use in Europe
The impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on drug use in Europe

The European report raises the alarm on the risks to public health due to the hyperavailability and use of a wide range of substances, often of high potency or purity

(Foto: University of South Australia)

While the use of amphetamine e Mdma has decreased, there has been a growth in the consumption of alcohol e psychedelic drugs, in addition to a new trend in the use of benzodiazepines. These are the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the European Drug Report 2021: Trends and Developments dellEuropean Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Emcdda) based on data from 29 countries (EU 27, Turkey and Norway). Here are the main points of the European drug report.

Changes since Covid-19

The use of party pills has obviously decreased. Data from online surveys of people who self-report drug use suggest increased consumption of alcohol and experimentation with psychedelic drugs, such as Lsd and 2-Cb (2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine), and dissociative drugs such as ketamine. “The use of Mdma and amphetamine decreased because i recreational contexts they stopped. Preferences have shifted towards more hallucinogenic drugs for home use. Now we will see how the data will change with the gradual opening of the recreation sector“Said Tim Surmont, a science analyst at EMCDDA.

Substances such as Lsd, hallucinogenic mushrooms e ketamine they are available across Europe, but are poorly monitored, still limiting the ability to understand exactly on what scale they are used and what impact they have on public health.

The biggest concern though is relating to the new trend in terms of use of benzodiazepines. These substances, useful for therapeutic purposes in anxiolytic drugs and tranquilizers, have been widely used used both because of the high availability and the low cost, sometimes starting from attempts to cure problems of mental health resulting from the pandemic. Although medically some of these medicines are legal and accessible, some studies emphasize its risks of prolonged use.

Evergreen and new entries

It is estimated that approx 83 million of people among the 15 e i 64 years old (28.9% of the population) in the European Union have used illicit drugs at least once in their life. The most commonly tested drug is the cannabis, but consumption levels differ significantly between European countries, ranging from around 4% of adults in Malta to 45% in France.

Cannabis use remains stable at high levels, but the increase in Thc content raises health concerns. The Emcdda signals a health alarm relating to the cannabis adulterated with extremely potent synthetic cannabinoids. The cannabis resin sold in Europe is in fact now more potent than before, with a content of Thc on average between 20% and the 28%, almost double that of plant cannabis. Close monitoring of this sector is needed to detect changes in cannabis problems: the number of those entering a first-time treatment to cure cannabis addictions is in fact on the rise.

Since 2015, approximately 400 new psychoactive substances previously reported. In 2020 they were reported for the first time 46 new psychoactive substances (NPS), bringing the total number monitored by the EMCDDA to 830. These include for notes new cannabinoids e synthetic opiates.

Interrupted services and little gender issue

This year’s report identifies continuing and growing public health challenges. They are mainly due to the continuous availability and the power O purity of substances, but also to the polyassunzion.

I deaths for overdose caused by opiates they are always higher, highlighting how there is a need to develop more services. At the same time iThe number of those who are trying to undergo rehabilitation treatments for the first time is on the rise.

Due to the prevention measures of Covid-19, the ability to manage patients was reduced in the first half of 2020. Increased use of the telemedicine since June 2020 it has contributed to the reduction of the reported treatment demand, but it has also enabled services to continuation to meet the needs of their customers during the pandemic. Treatment services in prisons also report service disruptions due to social distancing and restrictions on external service providers.

For all the drugs studied by the European Observatory, those who receive treatment are more men (about 80%) a sign that the problems of addiction they are much higher among the European male population. Likewise some organizations have stressed the need to rethink the program traditional treatment, also adapting it to the gender issue. Studies have also shown that the women they are much more capable of getting out of drug addiction and much faster than men.Credo is essential, in all areas of social, health and safety policies, to develop integrated and evidence-based responses as required by the new EU drug strategy“Said Alexis Goosdeel, director of EMCDDA.

The Italian situation

Also in Italy the data do not differ from the European average and the trends are confirmed. As already stated by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, in particular by the Department for Drug Policies, the diffusion of consumption methods that veer towards synthetic substances and the polyuse, together with more traditional forms of consumption.

In our country there is one of the highest cases of new users of cannabis. On the European average, Italy is the fourth country for seizure of plantations of marijuana and around 21 tons of resin and 23 tons of pure cannabis. Together with the other three most populous countries of the European Union (Germany, Spain, France), it represents over two-thirds (68%) of opiate users.

To prevent and identify the vulnerability and the occasional use of substances with the aim of reducing the time of access to treatment, especially among the youngest, the Ministers of Education, Health and the Economy have currently allocated the resources of the Fund for the prevention of drug addiction, for a total value of 4 million euros. Furthermore, last April, the experimental projects in the field of drug addiction prevention were made known, aimed above all at interventions in lower and upper secondary schools.

The European effort

Last December 2020, the Council of the European Union approved the EU drug strategy 2021-2025, which aims to protect and improve the health, social stability and safety, contributing to the awareness of the European public.

With the new security and drug strategies, our Member States they will have solid tools to address this emergency through a balanced approach“, He assured Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs.

To respond to the critical developments in the European markets of way, the strategy period compared to the previous one was decreased from 7 to 5 years, in the hope of being able to more readily counteract future changes that may arise.

We are witnessing a dynamic and adaptive drug market, resilient to Covid-19 related restrictions“, he highlighted goosdeel. During the pandemic, however, the ability of the international community to guarantee access to controlled medicines was tested, while the organized crime e i traffickers of drugs they are adequate travel restrictions and the closure of borders, managing to deal with the disruption of international transport.

Although retail drug trafficking was affected during the early lockdowns, i sellers he buyers drugs have adapted by increasing the use of encrypted messaging services, social applications, online sites and mail and home delivery services. This indicates that a long-term impact of the pandemic could be the further one digitization of drug markets, favoring its growth even more.

PREV Covid, Lazio. Open Day Junior for the age group 12-16 years: the details
NEXT Anti-Covid vaccine, new record for Lazio: 66 thousand doses administered