The voluntary, anonymous survey — one of the agency’s targeted ‘leading-edge’ monitoring methods — will run this year in over 30 countries and 29 languages (2). As in previous years, it will be promoted nationally by the Reitox focal points and their partners, as well as through targeted social media advertisements.
New to this year’s round is the participation of the agency’s partners from the Western Balkans and the European Neighbourhood Policy area through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA 7) and EU4Monitoring Drugs (EU4MD) projects.
Web-based surveys have the benefit of reaching people who use drugs directly. They are quick and cheap to set up, provide new data rapidly and can help spot emerging trends. If the same questions are used, along with a rigorous translation process, then these surveys can also allow for cross-national comparisons.
The new questionnaire, which will run for six weeks, is structured in modules on: socio-demographics, drug using patterns, access to treatment, access to drugs (amounts usually bought and prices paid) and how COVID-19 has affected patterns of drug use. Its findings will contribute to the emerging knowledge base on drug using practices in Europe and on the quantities of drugs used. This will help enhance market size estimates at national and European level and contribute to policy development more widely.
While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods, they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe. As such, they are a key ingredient in the EMCDDA’s responsiveness to an ever-shifting drugs problem.
(1) The survey was piloted between 2016 and 2018 in 16 countries and 15 languages, involving 80 000 participants. The aim was to test a web survey tool that could collect information quickly and cheaply on topics currently not covered through routine data collection. Five EU Member States plus Switzerland ran the first survey in 2016, while a further 10 Member States participated in the second survey in 2017/18. The 2021 edition is the third regular survey round and follows a special COVID-19-related version in 2020, which involved some 11 000 participants.
(2) Languages in 2021: Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Czech, German, Estonian, Georgian, Greek, English, French, Finnish, Italian, Latvian, Lebanese, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovakia, Slovenian, Swedish, Russian and Ukrainian.