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General population surveys
Monitoring drugs and drug addiction involves general population surveys and school youth surveys. Moreover, surveys are conducted among specific groups such as prison populations. Study results allow for estimating drug use prevalence and, thanks to follow-ups, identifying new trends.

The indicator of drug use prevalence in society is one of the five key indicators of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Polish general population research into drug use prevalence, attitudes and behaviours are based on EMCDDA and Pompidou Group methodology. General population surveys are conducted on a random sample of participants aged 15-64 by means of questionnaire interviews. Every four years the Information Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction carries out general population surveys (2002, 2006, 2010) and commissions ESPAD surveys (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs) (research centre: IPiN – 1993, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2011) and “Youth” surveys (research centre: CBOS Foundation – 2003, 2008, 2010, 2013).

The results are used to formulate recommendations and guidelines for designing anti-drug policies. Moreover, they are useful in evaluating the National Programme for Counteracting Drug Addiction. Nationwide surveys involve Marshal Offices which commission provincial surveys whose results are then used to design anti-drug policies at the provincial level.

The results of the 2011 ESPAD survey showed that the most prevalent illegal substances among adolescents was cannabis. Lifetime prevalence rates for this substances in 2011 stood at 24.3% among 15-16-year-olds and 37.3% among 17-18-year-olds. In both cases the rates had risen considerably compared to the 2007 measurement. The second most prevalent illegal psychoactive substance was amphetamine. In the case of this as well as the remaining drugs no significant differences were noted between the measurements of 2007 and 2011.

In the 2011 ESPAD survey, an attempt was made to estimate what percentage of cannabis users use the drug in a highly risky manner, which might result in addiction or at least harmful use. In the part of the study more than a dozen countries participated including France, Czech Republic, Romania, Italy, Germany and Poland. The subsequent analyses found that in all the participant countries approx. 5% of adolescents were classified as users likely to develop a serious drug problem. Poland belongs to the group of countries where the proportion of high-risk users in the whole sample ranged from 4% to 6%. The highest rates (9%) were recorded in France and the Czech Republic.

The 2011 ESPAD survey included the problem of new psychoactive substances (legal highs). The measurement was taken in spring 2011 following the closure of legal highs stores in 2010. Lifetime prevalence rates for new psychoactive substances stood at 10.5% among students aged 15-16. Among the older respondents the lifetime prevalence rates were higher (15.8%).

The results of the research project entitled “Drug use in school-age students – Youth 2013”, which included young people aged 18-19 indicate a fall in the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS). The percentage of the respondents who reported using NPS was two times as low in 2013 compared to 2010 (5.2% and 11.4% respectively). The results of the Youth 2013 survey also reveal the stabilization of the cough and cold medicine use for non-medical purposes. In 2013, 4.2% of the respondents reported ever using such products. For comparison, this rate in the 2010 survey stood at 4.7%. A similar situation occurred with regard to using such substances in the last 12 months (2.1% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2010 respectively) and the last 30 days (1% in 2013 and 1.1% in 2010 respectively).

Data for the analysis of the substance use prevalence in the general population are obtained through the survey of national sample of adults. In 2006 and 2010, the National Bureau for Drug Prevention conducted surveys including a representative sample of Polish population aged 15-64. Comparing the results of both surveys, the highest increase is noted in the case of cannabis, which still remains the most prevalent drug. Lifetime prevalence rates for this drug stood at 17.6% in 2010 while in 2006 this rate reached 9.1%.

In 2012, the survey of behavioural addictions conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS Foundation) and financed from the Gambling Problem Fund on a representative national sample of population aged over 15 included questions concerning psychoactive substance use. According to this measurement, 14% of the respondents had used drugs in their lifetime. The most prevalent drug was cannabis, every tenth respondent reported using cannabis (12.2%). Over fourfold fewer respondents admitted to having used amphetamines (approx. 3%). Few others had used other psychoactive substances (e.g. 1.1% ecstasy).


More data:

National Reports (chapter "Drug use in the general population and specific targeted groups")

The survey results from 2010 on youth at school "Youth and psychoactive substances"

The survey results "Psychoactive substance use in general population in 2010"

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