The Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse (“representative survey on the use and abuse of psychoactive substances”) has been conducted since 1980 as a repeated cross-sectional survey of the population of Germany. Before 1990, the surveys covered the territory of the former Federal Republic of Germany. However, since 1990, the new federal states have also been included in the survey. To monitor the use of illicit drugs exclusively in the new federal states, a survey was conducted in eastern Germany in 1992.
Except for the 1980 survey, which was only carried out in seven of the eleven states of the old Federal Republic, all studies in the Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse are representative of the Federal Republic. In all surveys, except for 1980, participants personally completed the questionnaire. In the 1980 survey, interviewers were used in Bavaria. In the 2006 survey, telephone interviews were conducted in addition to the written questionnaire. Since the 2009 survey, a mix of methods consisting of written, telephone, and internet surveys have been implemented.
The target population of the study changed from a youth and young adult sample between 1980 (ages 12-24) and 1990 (ages 12-39) to an adult-only sample (ages 18-59) starting in 1995. Since 2006, the 60-64 age group has also been surveyed.