Atzendorf, J.Trends in substance use and related disorders. Analysis of the Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse 1995 to 2018
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 116(35-36), 585-591. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2019.0585
Background: Changes in the use of psychoactive substances and medications and in the occurrence of substance-related disorders enable assessment of the magnitude of the anticipated negative consequences for the population.
Methods: Trends were analyzed in the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other illegal drugs, analgesics, and hypnotics/sedatives, as well as trends in substance-related disorders, as coded according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The data were derived from nine waves of the German Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse (Epidemiologischer Suchtsurvey, ESA) from 1995 to 2018. The data were collected in written form or by means of a combination of paper and internet-based questionnaires or telephone interviews.
Results: The estimated prevalence rates of tobacco and alcohol consumption and the use of hypnotics/sedatives decreased over time. On the other hand, increasing prevalence rates were observed for the consumption of cannabis and other illegal drugs and the use of analgesics. The trends in substance-related disorders showed no statistically significant changes compared to the reference values for the year 2018, except for higher prevalence rates of nicotine dependence, alcohol abuse and dependence, analgesic dependence, and hypnotic/sedative dependence in the year 2012 only.
Conclusion: Trends in tobacco and alcohol consumption imply a future decline in the burden to society from the morbidity, mortality, and economic costs related to these substances. An opposite development in cannabis use cannot be excluded. No increase over time was seen in the prevalence of analgesic dependence, but the observed increase in the use of analgesics demands critical attention.