Cocaine treatment demands in 10 western European countries: observed trends between 2011 and 2018

Jerome Antoine, Nadine Berndt, Mariana Astudillo, Donal Cairns, Stefan Jahr, Andrew Jones, Wil Kuijpers, Noelia Llorens, Suzi Lyons, Etienne Maffli, Natalia Magliocchetti, Marta Molina Olivas, Christophe Palle, Larissa Schwarzkopf, Jeroen Wisselink, Linda Montanari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To describe cocaine treatment demand in 10 western European countries and to examine the size, direction and temporality of recent trends in the proportion of cocaine users among all clients entering treatment. Design: Aggregated data collected through the European Union standardized treatment demand monitoring system (TDI) between 2011 and 2018 were used. Setting: Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Participants: In total, more than 700 000 cocaine treatment records were analysed. Clients in treatment for cocaine as primary drug were predominantly male (85%), with an average age of 35 years. Measurements: Number of treatment episodes for substance use and for cocaine as primary or secondary drug were collected year- and country-wise. When available, powder cocaine and crack and patients with and without previous treatment were differentiated. Findings: Among the participating countries the share of cocaine as primary drug in treatment demand ranged between 4.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 4.6–4.9%] in Germany and 43.1% in Spain (95% CI = 42.6–43.5%). The general trend analysis showed a decreasing proportion of cocaine-related treatment entrants between 2011 and 2014 among all subgroups followed by a strong increase in 2015. The increase appeared stronger than for powder cocaine. Seven of 10 countries observed a recent significant increase in the proportion of treatment entrants reporting cocaine as the primary substance: Belgium [annual percentage change (APC) = 9.6%, P < 0.01], England (APC = 14.9%, P < 0.05), France (APC = 21.8%, P < 0.01), Ireland (APC = 28.2%, P < 0.01), Italy (APC = 7.8%, P < 0.01), Spain (APC = 7.0%, P < 0.05) and Switzerland (APC = 12.0%, P < 0.05). Trends were similar when looking at cocaine reported as primary or adjunctive substance. Conclusions: Despite substantial country-specific variation regarding cocaine prevalence and treatment demand, there has been an overall significant increase since 2015 in the share of cocaine-related treatment demand in western Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2020


  • Cocaine
  • Europe
  • Substance use disorder
  • crack
  • treatment demand
  • trend


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