Assimilating European statistics on drug use against social conditions

On to some more factors! In case you may have missed them I have done previous work here and there. This time the helpful people behind eurostat; a statistical wing for the European commission; have measured markers of European social conditions. These statistics range with overcrowding, mortgage owners and work hours for me to swim through. Using the incidence rates of drug use as procured from the EMCDDA (European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction) it will be interesting to see the links between Europe’s social conditions and their drug use.

Statistics are from the year 2010 as they are the most recent and complete set of numbers available to me, the year 2011 have many omissions from countries which would be counter to this basic analysis. Drug prevalence rates are procured from the EMCDDA’s statistic database in their general survey. Points are mapped to a graph and a line of best fit was made to better display trends and estimate possible links.

My rummaging managed to unearth overcrowding statistics, household with low work rates (identified by eurostat as spending less than 20 hours per week working) and populations classified as under poverty risk. I managed to find some interesting data that may explain possible causal factors that could possibly affect drug use trends among Europe. The social conditions across the European continent are very different and it is in this environment that we may be on to a winner, maybe.

I must first clarify the technical terms eurostat has dished out with these findings. Overcrowding is self-explanatory, more individuals than the housing can capacitate; as a guide one room per single adult, a couple or two small children under 17 years of age. Equivalised disposable income is the income divided between members of a household- calculated through an OECD equation. It is essentially used to determine the wealth a household has. If the equalised income is lower than 60% of the national median equalised income, eurostat registers these individuals as at risk of poverty.

Onto the graphs in all its glory!

As with all previous graphs the use of drugs amongst young adults (15-34) is always higher than adults (15-64); possibly because they have either stopped using the drug or have perhaps succumbed to their usage.


Poverty risk vs drug use

The greater the poverty risk the lower the risk of cannabis use (~3% reduction), perhaps being poor can mean no money to feed a habit of cannabis use? That seems a likely explanation. Cocaine on the other hand is more or less stagnant with poverty risk, the percentages are already relatively low, up to 2%- perhaps it isn’t cost effective or just doesn’t taste that great. Norway has 2.1% cannabis incidence despite having one of the lowest poverty risk (14.9%). In the same vein, the Czech Republic’s population is at 14.4% poverty risk but demonstrates a 9.2% cannabis use.

Ecstacy on the other hand shows even more peculiar relationships. If you’re a young adult, you will want more ecstacy (a 0.1% rise! That’s INSANE) or go the other way if your older (a 0.1% drop, we’re SAVED). Altogether poverty has little effect on ecstacy.


Overcrowded tenants vs drugs


The more overcrowded the population of the nation, the less they will want cannabis and cocaine. This is certainly the case in both extremes where the largely overcrowded nations of Romania and Latvia only reaching 0.1 and 1.4% respectively for cannabis incidence rates. The Netherlands take 7.7% cannabis with only 4.6% overcrowded- although cannabis is legal within the said country.

Ecstacy has little or no effect in relation to overcrowding- Europe simply take ecstacy with no care for surroundings it seems

Low work hours vs drug use


Low work hour homes mean more drug using peoples, certainly with cocaine and cannabis. All that time and more drugs use yet, with low work, how do they feed their habit?

As the economy/poverty rises, cocaine and cannabis is less used amongst European countries. Ecstacy it seems looks like it is unaffected by poverty, perhaps affected by other factors?

Alternatively in overcrowded households there may be less chance to hide their stash or are more likely to be shunned by family members. I would imagine in such conditions social cohesion and rule following would be of greater influence for the majority of members; less likely to build a habit perhaps. A conjecture at best without more study



I am obliged to whack this in just in case my sarcastic rhetoric over the premise of using generalised graphs to make sweeping judgements of a continents drug use and their contributing factors- is overlooked. This article is very much light hearted and I am fully aware that these articles are simple and is limited by the nature of the figures available.

In all honesty, I am going to keep this simple, poverty is difficult to measure due to the transient nature of disposable income (see previous article). Social condition markers are also of a limited nature, how often does an individual get involved with the community? how do their religious beliefs influence their drug taking? The companions a person has and possible roles of peer pressure to drug use? How much of a family can a people be? What then of those who are orphaned or of small or large families?

The questions are endless and all these factors can realistically affect the possibility of an individuals drug use.


This article is part of a series. Please feel free to check my other articles:

[ Part I ]

[ Part II ]