According to the 2017-2018 Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs in Spain (EDADES), conducted by the Government Delegation for the National Drugs Plan and published by the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Well-being, the consumption of all drugs, except cannabis and tobacco, among the Spanish population aged 15 and 64 has levelled out over the last two years.

The data from EDADES 2017-2018 show that the drugs consumed by a vast majority of people are legal. At the top of the list is alcohol (75.2% of respondents consumed alcohol in the last year; 77.6% in 2015), followed by tobacco (40.9% smoked tobacco in the last year, compared with 40.2% in 2015). Hypnosedatives (with or without prescription) are the third substance (11.1% now, compared with 12% in 2015) and cannabis is the fourth (11% now, compared with 9.5% in 2015).

All the other drugs included in the study show consumption levels in the last year of less than 2.5% (percentage of the population consuming them). Cocaine remains at 2.2%; extasy at 0.6%; hallucinogens at 0.4%; amphetamines at 0.5%; and heroin at 0.1%, the same percentage as the volatile inhalants. As regards the new psychoactive substances, 1.1% of Spaniards aged between 15 and 64 claimed to have tried them at some time in their lives.

The ages at which consumption begins showed no significant changes. Legal substances (alcohol and tobacco) are then ones people try at the youngest age, while the consumption of hypnosedatives begins later in life.

In terms of gender, hypnosedatives and opioid analgesics are the only substances with more widespread consumption among women (last year 14.1% compared with 8.1% of men for hypnosedatives, and 7.4% compared with 5.9% of men for opioid analgesics). The consumption of cannabis by men is more than twice the consumption of cannabis by women (15.4% compared with 6.6%), while this gender difference is almost triple for cocaine (3.4% men and 1% women).

The pattern of polyconsumption remains very high. It is concentrated among men aged 25 to 34 and very often (in 90% of cases) includes the consumption of alcohol and cannabis.

Children

The consumption of drugs by those aged 15 to 17 increased slightly. In the last year, 60% of the children surveyed consumed alcohol (58% in the previous survey) and 25.4% consumed tobacco (20.6% in 2015).

14.3% of those under 18 consumed cannabis in the last year (12.6% in 2015), which is twice the percentage of those aged over 45 who consumed cannabis (7.8%).

Hypnosedatives (with or without prescription) were consumed by 1.7% of this age group, while stimulants such as extasy and cocaine stand at 0.6% and 1.5%, respectively.

Behaviour

Based on the 2017-2024 Strategy of the National Drug Plan, a number of questions were included on behaviour, such as compulsive Internet use and compulsive gambling.

The CIUS (Compulsive Internet Use Scale) was used to make estimates in this regard. The analysis shows that, both in 2015 and in 2017, 2.9% of the population aged 15 to 64 (approximately 906,000 people) engaged in compulsive Internet use.

In terms of online gambling in 2017, 3.5% of the population aged 15 to 64 gambled with money online in the last year. Most of these gamblers were men aged 25 to 34, and sports wagering is the most popular online gambling activity.

In terms of offline gambling in 2017, 59.5% of the population aged 15 to 64 gambled offline in the last year. More men than women gamble offline and this type of gambling is directly related to the age of the population; older people gamble offline. The most common games are lotteries, which were played by the largest percentage (94%), followed by instant lotteries (22.1%) and the football pools and/or quinigol (16.4%).

Most significant data on consumption per substance

Alcohol

The consumption of this substance at any time of life, within the last year and within the last month remains stable since 2005. 91.2% of people aged 15 to 64 consumed alcoholic beverages at some time in their life, 75.2% in the last year and 62.7% in the last month, with 7.4% daily in the last month.

The figure on daily alcohol consumption (7.4%) is the lowest since these surveys on drugs in the general Spanish population began in 1995.

2017 also saw lower percentages of people who have consumed alcohol at some point in their life (93.2% in 2015), in the last year (77.6 in 2015) and daily in the last month (9.3% in 2015).

Among those aged 15 to 64 who have consumed alcoholic beverages in the last week, beer was the most popular followed by wine and spirits.

In terms of intensive alcohol consumption, 5.1% of the population aged 15 to 64 (approximately 1,600,000 people, of which 1,200,000 are men and 400,000 are women) showed at-risk consumption (AUDIT SCALE > 8). This figure has remained unchanged since 2009 (4.8% in 2009 and 5% in 2013). 18.6% of respondents claimed to have been drunk in the last year, which is an increase on the figure from 2015 (16.8%). 7.1% of people had been drunk in the last month (6.5% in 2015).

Binge drinking is considered as the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks in a single two-hour session for men and four or more alcoholic drinks in a single two-hour session for women. In 2017, 15.1% of the population aged 15 to 64 claimed to have engaged in binge drinking in the last 30 days. This is lower than the figure from 2015 (17.9%).

Tobacco

In 2017, 69.7% of the population aged 15 to 64 claimed to have smoked at some time in their life, 40.9% in the last year, 38.8% in the last month and 34% daily in the last month (3.6% more than in 2011).

Among smokers, two out of three have considered giving up smoking and, of those, two out of three have tried.

E-cigarettes. In 2017, 8.8% of the population between 15 to 64 (9.6% of men and 8.1% of women) have used e-cigarettes (with or without nicotine) at some point in their life, 3% in the last year and 1.5% in the last month.

Hypnosedatives

The consumption of hypnosedatives has stabilised. The figures show that 20.8% of the population aged 15 to 64 have tried them at some time in their life, 11.1% in the last year, 7.5% in the last month and 5.9% consume them daily.

People begin to consume these substances at a very late age (34.4 years) and they are the only drug included in the survey besides opioid analgesics with more widespread consumption among women (14.1% in the last year) than among men (8.1% in the last year). The largest consumption percentage was found to be among women aged between 55 and 64.

Opioid analgesics

A specific section on the consumption of opioid analgesics was introduced into the EDADES survey for the first time this year. In 2017, 14.5% of the Spanish population aged 15 to 64 has consumed opioid analgesics at some time in their life, 6.7% in the last year and 2.9% in the last month. The most-consumed opioid analgesics are codeine, tramadol and morphine. The majority of consumers (95.7%) obtained them on medical prescription and more than half took them for acute pain (65%).

More women than men consume opioid analgesics in every time period studied (at some point, last year, last month).

Cannabis

Cannabis is the most-consumed illegal substance in the Spanish population. In 2017, 223,000 people (almost half are children) started to consume cannabis, compared with 159,000 in 2015. As regards the consumer percentages, 35.2% of the population aged 15 to 64 have consumed cannabis at some time in their life, 11% in the last year, 9.1% in the last month and 2.1% daily in the last month (in 2015: 31.5% at some time, 9.5% last 12 months, 7.3% last 30 days and 2.1% daily). It is estimated that, in 2017, 647,000 people (519,000 men and 128,000 women) consumed cannabis daily.

In terms of problematic cannabis consumers (i.e. those scoring four or more on the CAST scale), 1.6% of the population and 15.9% of those who consumed cannabis in the last year have engaged in problematic cannabis consumption. These figures are lower than those recorded in 2015 (1.8% and 21.2%, respectively). It is estimated that, in 2017, 496,828 people engaged in problematic cannabis consumption. Consumption among men is triple that among women, and the age group most affected is 15-24.

Cocaine

In 2017, consumption figures indicate that 10.3% of the population aged 15 to 64 has consumed cocaine at some time in their life, 2.2% in the last year and 1.1% in the last month. Consumption is mostly among men (three out of four consumers), with an average age of 36.6 years. In terms of new consumers, 85,000 people started to consume this substance in 2017.

Heroin

Consumption remains stable at very low levels. In 2017, 0.6% of the population aged 15 to 64 had tried heroin at some time in their life, 0.1% in the last year and in the last month. The average consumer profile is one of a man over 35 years-old.

Extasy, amphetamines, hallucinogens and volatile inhalants

Consumption has stabilised in the last year among both men and women. Consumption in the last year stands below 0.7% for extasy (0.6%), amphetamines (0.5%), hallucinogens (0.4%) and inhalants (0.1%). The consumption of hallucinogens at some point in your life has increased when compared with the previous survey (4.5% in 2017 and 3.8% in 2015).

New psychoactive substances (NPS)

1.1% of the population aged 15 to 64 has tried an NPS (Spanish acronym: NSP) at some time in their life, which is lower than the figure of 3.4% in the previous survey. This consumption is experimental and mostly takes place among men aged 25 to 44.