Quite a lot of smoke but very limited fire–the use of methamphetamine in Europe

by Griffiths P, Mravcik V, Lopez D, Klempova D.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction,
EMCDDA, Lisbon, Portugal.
[email protected]
Drug Alcohol Rev. 2008 May;27(3):236-42.


INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: This paper provides an overview of the historical development, current situation and potential future diffusion of methamphetamine (MA) use in Europe.

DESIGN AND METHODS: The analysis is based on a review of published and grey literature, as well as data collected as part of the ongoing monitoring of the drug situation in Europe. Some qualitative surveys among high-risk populations do exist, but overall the general low prevalence of methamphetamine use in most of Europe means that the data available to explore patterns of use are limited.

RESULTS: In many parts of Europe, amphetamine use is well established and the injecting of amphetamines has historically constituted an important component of the drug problem in many Nordic countries. Methamphetamine problems are long documented in the Czech and Slovak republics, but there is no current evidence of widespread use of MA elsewhere in Europe. Concern that MA use is spreading in Europe is prompted by some reports of use among high-risk groups. However, the evidence available suggests that even in high-risk populations, the use of MA currently remains uncommon. Europe accounted for less than 1% of worldwide MA seizures in 2005, and over the period 2004-05 European ephedrine seizures amounted for 6% of the global figure.

DISCUSSION: The spread of MA use is limited and no strong evidence exists that significant diffusion is occurring. It appears likely that methamphetamine diffusion in Europe is impeded by a strong market for other stimulant drugs [cocaine, amphetamine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)]. The future potential for the diffusion of MA may be influenced by factors such as: the relative availability and popularity of other drugs; possible ‘leakage’ from areas of historical high prevalence; travel by young Europeans to areas of high prevalence; and how users perceive MA as a desirable, suitable and cost-effective alternative to other stimulants available on the European illicit drug market.