Overall prevalence of problem drug use in the European Union is estimated to range from two to ten cases per 1 000. However, considerable differences exist across Europe and in a few countries users of amphetamines or cocaine constitute an important proportion of problem drug users.

More Europeans than ever before are currently undergoing drug treatment. People with drug problems are often polydrug users and there are indications of a significant and probably increasing health burden related to cocaine use in Europe, which is not yet fully identified and recognised. Also regular cannabis use is also increasingly recognised as a risk for dependence and other health problems. There is much to be learnt from people in the field of legal substances as experiences and perceptions of people trying to reduce or quit drug use have some features in common with the experiences and perceptions of people trying to reduce or quit alcohol and tobacco consumption. The average prevalence of cigarette smokers in the EU is approximately 32% and some 23 million Europeans (5% of men, 1% of women) are estimated to be dependent on alcohol in any one year.

The EMCDDA is preparing a thematic paper to highlight key issues from the perspective of people who are attempting to reduce their drug, cigarette and alcohol consumption or overcome their dependence. Quotations from interviews with samples of such people either in or outside of treatment services will be used to highlight some of the key issues they face as well as similarities and differences among them.

Direct quotations can provide very personal accounts of a problem from the perspective of the individuals involved. As such, quotations can be used effectively to inform and strengthen statistics and send messages to practitioners and policy makers that lead to the creation of more innovative, holistic and effective responses.

Please send your contribution for Drug User Voices from interview quotations (in published or grey literature and reports from treatment services, outreach services and non-government organisations - in English and/or in the original language) to Deborah Olszewski (Deborah.Olszewski@emcdda.europa.eu) by May 2011.

To read more please download the document below.