Patterns of use and routes of administration

Figure 10

Route of administration among all clients at EU level

item Inject | item Smoke/inhale | item Eat/drink | item Sniff


Valid %.

Data were not available for France, Ireland, Austria and Portugal for 2000 or for Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal for 2001.

Source: Reitox national reports (2001, 2002). TDI data (2000, 2001) from outpatient treatment centres.


Mostly, users take drugs for the first time during adolescence (between 15 and 29 years and in particular from ages 15 to 19). However, age at first use differs by substance: 33.6 % of clients start to use cannabis before the age of 15 and 56.3 % when aged between 15 and 19 years, and 63.3 % use stimulants for the first time at the same age (15 to 19). In contrast, the age at first use of heroin and cocaine appears to be higher (more than 40 % of clients first use heroin and cocaine when aged between 20 and 29 years, and a group even after this age) (Figure 10 OL).

Heroin, cocaine and cannabis users demanding treatment, if they have used drugs in the last 30 days, have usually taken them on a daily basis, while stimulants are typically used two to six times a week (Figure 9 OL).

The routes of administration of the primary drugs most frequently reported are injection and smoking for heroin, snorting or smoking/inhaling for cocaine and ingestion/drinking for stimulants (Figure 10). Taking into account the methodological limitations (the sample was not exactly the same as in the previous year (2001) and there were fewer unknown data in 2001), a change in patterns of use has been reported in 2001: fewer clients inject heroin and more sniff or smoke cocaine. Possible reasons could be related to market factors, especially price and availability of smokable heroin and crack/cocaine, and the impact of prevention and harm-reduction programmes (EMCDDA, 2002a; National reports, 2002).