The goal of the Epidemiological Addiction Survey is to monitor substance use and its consequences through epidemiological surveys in the general population. The monitoring serves, among other things, to gather information about the situation in Germany, to plan and improve prevention and healthcare, or to assess the effects of legal and other regulatory interventions on consumption behavior and negative impacts.
1. Descriptive information on consumption behavior
Under consumption behavior, information is understood regarding the type of substances consumed, the amount and pattern of consumption, the conditions of consumption, as well as the health, social, and financial consequences. These descriptive details serve as the basis for reporting tasks of the federal government, such as addiction and drug reports, parliamentary inquiries, public information, comparisons of the situation in Germany with other countries, and reporting to European and international organizations (e.g., EC, EMCDDA, WHO, UN, UNODC).
2. Calculation of consumption consequences and overall burden on individuals and the population
This involves calculating the consequences associated with consumption behavior for individuals and the entire population or specific population groups. These consequences include health, social, and economic impacts. The results also contribute to reporting tasks, such as comparing burdens with other mental and psychosomatic disorders or other countries, and estimating the costs at individual and societal levels associated with problematic consumption patterns.
3. Trend analysis
Long-term comparisons of different surveys and associated analyses based on data from (1) and (2) are conducted. This allows for observing long-term trends in sociodemographic aspects or consumption patterns that are relevant for reporting and comparison purposes. Data spanning up to 30 years are available for trend analysis (the first survey took place in 1980).
4. Alert function for critical developments as a basis for health policy action
Epidemiological studies can identify critical developments much earlier than other instruments (such as analyzing changes in patients in addiction treatment facilities), providing a basis for proactive health policy measures by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) or other authorities. For example, around 1990, epidemiological studies were the first to show that the proportion of individuals with harmful use (ICD-10)/abuse (DSM-IV) was much higher than originally assumed, and that only a small portion of dependent individuals and an even smaller portion of individuals with problematic consumption patterns seek treatment. This led to numerous projects, such as screening for problematic consumption patterns in general medical care facilities and a general emphasis on prevention measures, as well as early detection and intervention for problematic consumption patterns.
5. Scientific analysis to ensure the quality and international comparability of results
Although scientific analysis is not the primary focus in terms of data collection methods, sampling, and statistical analysis, it is essential for two reasons: Firstly, ongoing empirical verification is necessary to ensure or improve the quality (reliability and validity) of statements. Additionally, the evaluation of relevant literature and European and international cooperation are necessary to adapt data collection to international standards and advancements.