Home > National-level drug policy and young people's illicit drug use: A multilevel analysis of the European Union.

Vuolo, Mike (2013) National-level drug policy and young people's illicit drug use: A multilevel analysis of the European Union. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 131, (1-2), pp. 149-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.12.012.

Recent research has called upon investigators to exploit cross-national differences to uncover the cultural and structural factors influencing drug use. While the individual-level correlates are well-established, little is known about the association between cross-national variation in drug policies and young people's substance use. This study examines, net of individual-level predictors, the association between national-level drug policy and use of an illicit drug other than cannabis.

The study uses Eurobarometer repeated cross-sectional surveys in 2002 and 2004 of adolescents aged 15–24 drawn in multistage, random probability samples proportional to population size and density within regions of their country (N = 15,191). Participants completed self-reported measures of last month drug use, attitudes toward drugs, school and work participation, and demographics. Gathered from several international bodies, national-level policy measures include drug offense levels, possession decriminalization, and presence and usage of harm reduction strategies.

Hierarchical logistic regression models demonstrate that, while controlling for important individual-level predictors, in countries where there is no restriction on possession of drugs for personal use, the odds of drug use in the last month are 79% lower (p < 0.05). On the other hand, higher usage of treatment and drug substitution are associated with higher levels of drug use. These results are robust to several alternate specifications.

Among the strongest and most consistent findings, eliminating punishments for possession for personal use is not associated with higher drug use. The results indicate that researchers should take national-level context into account in individual-level studies of drug use.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
January 2013
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 149-156
Elsevier Science
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