Statistical Bulletin 2023 — methods and definitions for drug use and prison

This page provides methods and definitions information for the Drug use and prison statistics, which form part of the EMCDDA's Statistical Bulletin 2023.

Methods and definitions used

Drugs and prison is an area of increasing relevance from a public health perspective as large part of the prison population use (or have used) drugs and many suffer from drug problems. Drug related services are scarcely available in the European prisons.

A methodological framework for monitoring on drug and prison in Europe was defined in 2013 and presented to the European Member States at the Horizontal Drug Group on Drugs. The framework includes indicators and methodologies to monitor drug use, drug-related health problems and drug services in European prisons and foresee the implementation of two data collection instruments to improve information availability and harmonisation in the field of drugs and prison; these are:

  • a model questionnaire to conduct cross sectional surveys in prison on drug epidemiology
  • a model questionnaire to collect information on drug-related health services in prison

The European Questionnaire on Drug Use among people living in Prison (EQDP) is available in 3 languages (English, Albanian, Croatian) and concern socio-demographic characteristics, substance use outside and inside prison, substance injecting, health status and use of services, including methodological annex.

An expert group of interested countries has been set up on a voluntary basis to apply and implement the questionnaire (or part of it) at national level and conduct common analysis on drug use and drug problems in the prison population.

Aggregated data on drug use prevalence from the European Member States, Norway and Turkey are also reported to the EMCDDA from surveys or routine official statistics at national level. These data concern drug use prevalence and drug injecting before and inside prison (lifetime, last year, last month, regular use, by type of drug).

Furthermore EMCDDA tools providing data on prison although not aimed at collecting prison data. Data collection tools focusing on treatment demand, infectious diseases, treatment and harm reduction interventions include specific sections on prison. Qualitative information on the state of situation concerning drugs and prison in each country is reported yearly to the EMCDDA.

Regarding the second tool - European Facility Survey in Prison- an adaptation of the EFSQ used in the community will be implemented in the next period.

It is the objective of the EMCDDA to assist the scaling up and further development of monitoring drug-related activities in the prison setting of European countries and to improve the level of European harmonisation of data on drug and prison.

For further information see the Drug use and prison topics page.