There are a number of places where you can find statistics or information on the prevalence and patterns of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use on the Internet. The following list includes selected statistical resources covering Europe, North America, Australasia and worldwide. It concludes with the findings of a paper commissioned by the journal Addiction on estimating the extent of addictive behaviours globally.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
The World Drug Report, published annually by the UNODC, provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine type stimulants and new psychoactive substances, as well as their impact on health.
UNODC also produces and disseminates statistics on drugs, crime and criminal justice at the international level which are updated regularly
World Health Organisation (WHO)
The WHO Global Health Observatory (GHO) data pages provide links to reports, data repository, country statistics, substance use disorders and treatment, maps for alcohol and health, plus data visual dashboards.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
EMCDDA issues an annual European Drug Report that provides an overview of the drug situation across Europe. It covers drug supply, drug use, public health problems as well as drug policy and responses. Together with the EMCDDA’s online Statistical Bulletin, Country Drug Reports and Perspectives on Drugs, it makes up a comprehensive package
The Statistical Bulletin published annually brings together the most recent available data on the drug situation in Europe. Covers a wide variety of data including drug deaths, wastewater analysis, drug related infectious diseases, price, purity etc. It can be viewed interactively on screen and the data can be downloaded in Excel.
The Country Drug Reports present summaries of the national drug situation in 30 European countries. Using graphics these reports cover: drug use and public health problems; drug policy and responses and drug supply.
The European Information System on Alcohol and Health (EISAH)
The European Information System on Alcohol and Health (EISAH) provides access to a wide range of alcohol-related health statistics.
European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD)
ESPAD’s main purpose is to collect comparable data on substance use among 15- to 16-year-old students in order to monitor trends within as well as between countries.
North America – USA National Data Sources
National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA)
NIDA monitors prevalence and trends regarding drug abuse in the United States. Its trends and statistics webpage lists several resources covering a variety of drug related issues, including information on drug usage, emergency room data, prevention and treatment programs, and other research findings.
For drug use trends, with a focus on emerging drugs and/or patterns of use, see the National Drug Early Warning System run by NIDA and the University of Maryland
The Monitoring the Future Study from the University of Michigan and NID is a key source for national statistics on US youth substance use, attitudes, and risk behaviours.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA’s reources include:
Treatment Episode Data (Admissions/Discharges): US national data related to admissions and discharges from substance use disorder treatment
National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Data by population, nationwide, state, and other regions about substance use patterns for Americans aged 12 plus.
Emergency Department Data: Drug-related hospital emergency department visit data.
Substance Abuse Facilities Data: The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) is an annual census of all substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States, both public and private
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Snapshots and factsheets of national statistics on variety of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug-related topics, plus access to more complex datasets for more extensive information gathering. Includes information about:
Drugs: e.g. Illegal drug use
The CDC with the National Center for Health Statistics produce Data Briefs. These are statistical publications that provide information about current public health topics e.g. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2015
The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including alcohol and other drug use, tobacco use.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Publish an Alcohol Facts and Statistics factsheet
North America – Canada
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)
Monitors data from a variety of sources with the aim of forming a picture of substance use and its related harms in Canada
CCSA portal page on alcohol including links to data
Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (CCENDU)
Emerging drug use trends and associated issues.
Health Statistics Canada
The Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey provides continual data on tobacco, alcohol and drug use and related issues (people aged 15 years and older).
Other surveys include the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (formerly the Youth Smoking Survey (YSS)) is a biennial survey administered to students in grades 7-12 across Canada collecting data on tobacco, drug and alcohol use as well as mental health, bullying etc.
The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) is Australia’s national agency for health and welfare statistics and information, and they have an alcohol and other drugs subject area. They run the prevalence surveys and also compile statistics on treatment.
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use among the general population in Australia. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Survey findings relate mainly to people aged 14 years or older.
There are other useful sources of data via the national research centres:
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre portal to Drug Trends National Reports covering illicit drugs.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Institute runs the National Alcohol Indicators Project (NAIP), aimed at tracking and reporting on trends in alcohol-related harm in Australia at national, state and local levels.
The National Centre for Education and Training in Addiction hosts the National Alcohol and Drug Knowledgebase website providing access to Australian data and other information about alcohol and other drugs. It also publishes facts and figures about Australia’s Alcohol & Other Drug National Workforce Survey 2019-2020
The National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund promotes quality evidence-based practice in drug law enforcement to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of licit and illicit drug use in Australian society
The Penington Institute publish an annual report on deaths from drug overdoses
Facts and information about tobacco issues across Australia
Adolescent Health Research Group Youth19 Rangatahi smart study is the latest in the Youth2000 survey series running since 2001, with more than 36,000 New Zealand young people surveyed to date. Data on smoking, drinkig, vaping and drug use
To conclude the paper commissioned by Addiction in 2014 to estimate the extent of addictions globally looked at online sources of global, regional and national information on prevalence and major harms relating to alcohol use, tobacco use, unsanctioned psychoactive drug use and gambling were identified through expert review and assessed. It concluded that “tobacco and alcohol use are by far the most prevalent addictive behaviours and cause the large majority of the harm. However, the quality of data on prevalence and addiction-related harms is mostly low, and comparisons between countries and regions must be viewed with caution. There is an urgent need to review the quality of data on which global estimates are made and coordinate efforts to arrive at a more consistent approach.”
Gowing, L. R., Ali, R. L., Allsop, S., Marsden, J., Turf, E. E., West, R., and Witton, J. (2015), Global statistics on addictive behaviours: 2014 status report. Addiction, 110, 904–919.
In 2018 the journal Addiction compiled a new review that provides the most up-to-date source of information on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use. It shows that in 2015 alcohol and tobacco use between them cost the human population more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life years, with illicit drugs costing a further tens of millions.
Peacock, A., Leung, J., Larney, S., Colledge, S., Hickman, M., Rehm, J., Giovino, G. A., West, R., Hall, W., Griffiths, P., Ali, R., Gowing, L., Marsden, J., Ferrari, A. J., Grebely, J., Farrell, M., and Degenhardt, L. (2018) Global statistics on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use: 2017 status report. Addiction https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/add.14234n,
The opinions expressed in this commentary reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official positions of the Society for the Study of Addiction.