RESEARCH – December 2019

Method of the European Web Survey on Drugs and preliminary results

Authors: Katri Abel-Ollo, Liilia Lõhmus

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Abstract

Background and aim. This paper presents a sample of drug users recruited by the convenience sample-based web survey (n = 2719), which is the biggest sample of drug users ever recruited in Estonia. This large sample gives valuable information on the patterns of drug use and drug market. The aim of the paper is to provide an insight into the method of web survey and to present preliminary results. Based on the results, a general description of the sample and an overview of drug use are presented. More focus is placed on cannabis use and attitudes towards cannabis.

Methods. Data was drawn from the EMCDDA’s (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug addiction) European Web Survey on Drugs, where eight European countries,including Estonia, participated in 2018. In Estonia the survey period was 8.12.2017−19.01.2018.

Results. Of the web survey sample subjects, 75% had used drugs in the past year. Among them, 70% had used more than one drug during their life. The most prevalent drug used was cannabis (98% of users), more than half had used amphetamine and half had used Ecstasy. Of those who answered the questions of the cannabis module, 17% were everyday or almost everyday users. 12% did not associate any harm with cannabis use, 64% assessed the use as weakly or moderately harmful, 23% assessed it as extremely harmful and 1% did not know how to assess it.

Discussion. The method of convenience sample-based web survey has proved to be effective in collecting information from hard-to-reach population of recreational drug users during a short period of time. The majority of the sample included active drug users; after stimulants, the most prevalent drug was cannabis. Based on sample size and the results obtained, we can recommend the web survey method for collecting information on drug use patterns and drug market in the future.