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Sunday 5th of July 2020


Young People and Substance Abuse in the EU: Decreasing Supply, Reducing Dependence, Building Recovery Enquiries



Tuesday 18th of November 2014


One of the main challenges to be addressed by EU drug policies is the rapid spread of new psychoactive substances, currently legal substances that imitate the effects of illegal drugs.

Between 2009 and 2013, the number of substances notified through the EU Early Warning System tripled. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey published in August 2014, ‘legalhighs’ have become more and more popular and the average consumption among young people in the EU has increased from 5% in 2011 to 8% in 2014. As a response, the European Commission proposed in 2013 to introduce a quicker mechanism to withdraw harmful psychoactive substances from the market. The aim is to strengthen the EU’s ability to protect young people by reducing the availability of harmful substances, as part of an overall drug policy regulatory framework.

Drug experimentation often starts in school years, but evidence suggests that strategies that improve school climate and students’ self-control may lead to reductions in substance abuse. However, compared to a few years ago young people are less informed through school programmes about the risks of drugs. The likelihood of receiving information from media campaigns has also decreased. Furthermore, only a limited number of European countries report implementing prevention strategies in nightlife settings.

Drug abuse and drug-related problems can impact society on multiple levels and jeopardise public health and public safety. For example, the risk of contracting infectious diseases is higher among drug users, especially injecting drug users. Along with overdose, drug-related diseases, such as depression, violence and suicide are one of the major causes of mortality among young people. Thus, increasing harm reduction interventions as well as social rehabilitation services for young addicts are key elements of any comprehensive drug strategy.

Building on the lessons learned from the implementation of previous EU Drugs Strategies and associated Action Plans, the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 provides a common and evidencebased framework for reducing health and social risks and harms caused by drugs.

This special International Symposium provides a timely opportunity for practitioners and stakeholders across Europe to discuss the latest challenges and consider the next steps needed to win the fight against the misuse and dependence on illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances through holistic, multi-level and cross-border approaches. Public Policy Exchange welcomes the participation of all key partners, responsible authorities and stakeholders.

The Symposium will support the exchange of ideas and encourage delegates to engage in thought-provoking topical debate.

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European Union


Drug, Juvenile, Prevention, Rehabilititation


Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre, Avenue du Boulevard 17, 1210, Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

More information


  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Armand Campenhout, nº 72 bte 10. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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