Home > Drug helplines across Europe help to identify emerging drug trends.

Sinclair, Hamish (2006) Drug helplines across Europe help to identify emerging drug trends. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 17, Spring 2006 , p. 15.

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In November 2005 the European Foundation of Drug Helplines (FESAT) published the results from its ninth monitoring project.1 Since the beginning of 2001 FESAT has been collecting information every six months on the types of person contacting FESAT helplines, the content of these calls and how this has changed compared to the previous six months. The main objective of this monitoring is to identify the emergence of new drugs and new drug trends as early as possible. A total of 28 FESAT helplines in 16 European countries, including Ireland, participated in the ninth monitoring project. This article will describe some of the main changes that were reported by the helplines during the second half of 2004.

While the majority of helplines reported no change in the number and content of calls during the second half of 2004 compared to the situation during the first six months of 2004, a number of helplines did report an increased number of calls about cocaine (9 helplines) and alcohol (7 helplines). There were also reports of a decrease in the number of calls about injecting heroin (8 helplines) and about ecstasy (8 helplines). These trends were also noted in the eighth monitoring project, which compared the first six months of 2004 with the last six months of 2003.2 The emergence of cocaine as a growing European problem was recently highlighted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition (EMCDDA).3

Four helplines reported calls about new drugs (i.e. drugs not previously reported by the helpline). Calls about a mixture of ‘cocaine and absint’ were reported by two Belgian helplines. Calls were received about a stimulant called ‘speed 8’ in the Czech Republic. Speed 8 contains a GHB derivative and is sold legally in the country. A Russian helpline received reports about the consumption of a new substance called ‘Spidi’. The FESAT report does note, however, that an increased number of calls about a specific drug, that is not a part of a more general trend, cannot automatically be seen as an indicator of increased consumption. It might also indicate an increased curiosity or an increased concern among professionals, parents or partners. The report also acknowledges that it is not possible to get a clear picture about changes in the use of different drugs via data from drug helplines only. Hence, it is important to see drug helpline monitoring as a complement to other kinds of data collected nationally or internationally.

Information for the ninth monitoring project was collected from FESAT helplines using a standard questionnaire distributed in February 2005. Out of a total of 41 relevant helplines, 28 (63% response rate) returned completed questionnaires. These helplines were based in the following 16 countries: Austria (3 helplines), Belgium (2), Cyprus (1), Czech Republic (1), Finland (4), Germany (2), Greece (3), Ireland (1), Italy (2), Latvia (1), Luxembourg (1), Malta (1), the Netherlands (2), Portugal (1), Russia (1) and Spain (2). The participating Irish helpline was the Drugs/HIV Helpline, based in Dublin, which handled an average of 35 calls per day in the second half of 2004, up from 16 per day in the first half of 2004.  

 

1. Hibell B (2005) FESAT Monitoring Project ­– Changes during the second half of 2004. FESAT (The European Foundation of Drug Helplines). www.fesat.org

2. Hibell B (2005) FESAT Monitoring Project ­– Changes during the first half of 2004. FESAT (The European Foundation of Drug Helplines). www.fesat.org

3. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition (2005). The state of the drugs problem in Europe: annual report 2005. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

More information about FESAT can be found on the website of the European Foundation of Drug Helplines (www.fesat.org). The freephone number for the Irish Drugs/HIV Helpline is 1800 459 459.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 17, Spring 2006
Date:January 2006
Page Range:p. 15
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 17, Spring 2006
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Identification and screening > Identification and screening for substance use
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention approach > Prevention through information and education
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Prevention programme or service
VA Geographic area > Europe

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