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International — Drug Control Policies in Austria

  1. Basic Data


    (Overall Prevalence of Use in Austria) "In Austria, experience of illicit drug use primarily concerns cannabis, with prevalence rates of approximately 30% to 40% among young adults. According to the majority of representative studies, experience of ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines is found among approximately 2% to 4% of the population, and experience of opioids among approximately 1% and a maximum of 2% (see Tables A1 and A2). In recent years, the range of substances taken in the context of experimental use has widened. Within certain scenes and groups of young people, high prevalence rates for a variety of substances are found, including biogenic drugs, solvents and inhalants. However, in most cases, use of illicit substances is limited to a short period in life. Regarding the use of research chemicals and legal highs in the general population, few data are available, which, however, indicate insignificant prevalence levels, in contrast to the great interest in this theme reflected by media coverage."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), p. 13.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...


  2. (Estimated Prevalence of Lifetime Use in Austria) "2008 was the second time that a representative survey3 on prevalence and patterns of use of legal and illicit narcotic substances was carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG). The final report on this study and detailed analyses will not be available before the end of 2009 (Uhl et al. 2009, under preparation), but preliminary results can already be given (see Table A1 in Annex A resp. ST1). In the context of the survey on use, a total of 4,196 people over 14 were interviewed with regard to their experience of use of legal as well as illicit psychoactive substances. 50% of respondents were in the age group from 15 to 24 (oversampling of young people / young adults). In the analyses regarding overall population, this oversampling was balanced by means of weighting.
    "In sum, the prevalence rates found in the 2008 survey were lower for almost all drugs compared to the survey of 2004 (see Figure 2.1). Regarding cannabis, lifetime prevalence went down to nearly half the percentage of 2004. Such a decline in lifetime prevalence rates within a period of only four years is impossible. Other factors, e.g., stronger tendencies to deny use of illicit drugs or possibly methodological problems, must have been essential reasons for the low rates indicated. These results should be discussed in detail by the Austrian group of experts on population surveys of drug use.
    "The share of respondents indicating experience of alcohol (95%) or tobacco (67%) is markedly higher than people admitting illicit drug use."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2009 National report (2008 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2009), pp. 11-12.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index142598EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_142599_EN_AT-NR2009.pdf


  3. (Prevalence of Last-Year Use in Austria 2008) "The prevalence rates covering the past year (12-month prevalence) have gone down considerably. They are above one percent only in the case of cannabis (2.8 %; 2004: 7.5 %) and under one percent regarding all other substances (see Figure 2.1). This confirms the assumption that use of illicit drugs tends to be limited to a certain period in life or to experimental use. However, the strong decrease in 12-month prevalence rates for illicit substances compared to 2004 should be assessed critically.
    "Recent data are again available from the Vienna drug survey4, which permits an analysis of long-term trends since 1993 (IFES 2009; see also Table A1 in Annex A and ST1).
    "Compared to previous surveys, indications of drug use went down or remained at levels similar to the past, with the exception of opioids (see Figure 2.2). Regarding cannabis, after a continuous rise, rates of use went down again. Although the decline is considerably smaller here, this result shows an interesting parallel to the development of prevalence rates in the aforementioned nationwide population surveys, and should be discussed.
    "In the age groups under 30 and between 30 and 40, a share of 20% reported experience of cannabis, compared to 22% in the group aged 40 to 50 and 25% in the group between 50 and 60. In the group older than 60, only 3% indicated experience of cannabis. As a rule, life-time prevalence rates are higher among men than among women (e.g., cannabis: 22% v. 11%). To obtain a more comprehensive picture, also use in the past three years and in the past 30 days was studied: here the resulting prevalence rates are considerably lower compared to lifetime use (e.g., cannabis: 5% v. 3%)."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2009 National report (2008 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2009), pp. 12-13.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index142598EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_142599_EN_AT-NR2009.pdf


  4. (Prevalence of HIV in Austria Related to Injection Drug Use) "In the early 1990s the HIV prevalence rate still was as high as around 20% in the group of injecting drug users but has gone down to low levels since then (2011: 0% to 4%; see Table 6.1), although a number of data sources have reported slightly higher percentages in recent years (e.g. drug-related deaths in 2009: 5% to 12%; see GÖG/ÖBIG 2010a). Figure 6.1 shows that the percentage of injecting drug users with HIV infections who have been included in Austria's HIV cohort study 39 has gone down in the past few years (for details see GÖG/ÖBIG 2011 and AHIVCOS 2012). However, in 2011 we see a rise for the first time since 2007, especially in the group aged below 25 (see Figure 6.1). The percentage of people infected as a result of IDU, out of the total number of people with HIV infections, has risen slightly (2009: 10%, 2010: 9%, 2010: 12%)."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), p. 61.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...


  5. (Overdose Deaths in Austria 2011) "The classification of causes of death is based on the results of (forensic) autopsies including chemical/toxicological testing. In cases in which no autopsies have been carried out, the confirmation-of-death certificate has been used as a reference. In 2011, a total of 177 fatal overdoses were verified in the context of autopsies. An additional 24 deaths – for which no autopsies were performed, are likely to result from drug overdoses (narcotic drug poisoning given as the cause of death in the confirmation-of-death certificate after external post-mortem examination) 43. A total number of 201 deaths directly related to overdoses is therefore assumed for 2011. It is not possible to deduce short-term trends on the basis of these figures. However, it is reasonable to assume that, after a noticeable rise between 2003 and 2006, the number of fatal poisonings has not gone down again in recent years (see Figure 6.3).
    "In 11% of DRD cases for which conclusive toxicological analyses are available, only illicit substances (one drug or a combination of several drugs) were found. In 56% of cases psychoactive medicines were detected as well, in 8% alcohol was found, and in 25%, both substances, i.e. alcohol as well as psychoactive medicines. As in previous years, fatal poly-drug overdoses involving opioids clearly predominate (see Figure 6.4). The opioids that are found most frequently include morphine or heroin, followed by methadone (GÖG/ÖBIG 2012). Cocaine and amphetamines were apparent in only 15% and 7% of cases, respectively. Patterns of poly-drug use involving opioids, where the effects of different substances may be potentiating and are thus difficult to control, continue to be widespread and to constitute serious health risks."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), pp. 67-68.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...


  6. (Utilization of Treatment Services and Patient Demographics in Austria 2011) "The client year 2011 is the sixth year for which data of the DOKLI [Austrian Treatment Demand Indicator System] nationwide documentation system of clients of Austrian drug services have been available 36 (see also Tables A23–A28).
    "The drug support and treatment centres in Austria that are covered by the DOKLI system communicated data on a total of 3,037 people who had started long-term outpatient treatment in 2011. For 1,589 of them this was the first drug treatment they had ever had in their lives. 1,526 clients started long-term inpatient/residential treatment, and for 272 of them this was their first long-term drug-related treatment. Apart from people undergoing conventional drug-related medical treatment, DOKLI also registered 379 people turning to low-threshold services, and 6 511 people requiring drug-related services in the form of short-term contacts. Generally speaking, the data gathered for 2011 correspond to those of previous years.
    "Approximately one in six clients treated is younger than 20 – except in inpatient settings, where they account for 8% of patients A proportion of between 45% (low-threshold services) and 61% (long-term inpatient treatment) is between 20 and 29 years old (see Figure 5.1 and Table A23).
    "In all settings studied, the percentage of women clients was between 20% and 25%."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), p. 51.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...


  7. (Waiting Lists and Waiting Times for Treatment in Austria 2012) "Although the capacities of addiction support and treatment services in Austria have been continually expanded, many centres have waiting lists, and clients have to accept waiting times, which, however, depend on many factors, and may vary greatly. For instance, in 2011 the OIKOS support and treatment centre (see also Chapter 11) usually had more applicants for residential treatment than available places (Oikos 2012), whereas in summer 2012, waiting times were virtually nil (Witting, personal communication). In January 2012, the clients of the b.a.s. outpatient service in Graz faced waiting times of between six and eight weeks before they could enter treatment, (b.a.s 2012a), whereas in July 2012, the waiting times were only two to four weeks (b.a.s 2012b).
    "While the centres of the Maria Ebene Foundation report slightly smaller caseloads in 2011 (Stiftung Maria Ebene 2012b), the new Oikos support and cannabis outpatient services in Klagenfurt, which opened in autumn 2009, registered a considerable rise in clients in that year (Oikos 2012). This increase is primarily accounted for by young first consumers, but relatives of drug users have also been increasingly turning to the centre for information and advice. In order to meet the demand, three additional general practitioners have been appointed. Following the expansion of addiction support centres in Lower Austria in recent years, a significantly greater number of clients have received services, and advice with regard to non-substance-related forms of addiction has also been offered more often (Hörhan, personal communication)."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), p. 42.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...


  8. (Availability and Utilization of Syringe Exchange in Austria 2012) "Figure 7.1 illustrates that the total number of syringes dispensed or sold in Austria has slightly risen compared to the previous year. In 2012, a nationwide total of 4,234,317 syringes or needles were provided to drug users in the context of permanent syringe dispensing services (primarily at low-threshold centres) and street social work (see Tables A29; ST10). Syringe vending machines exist in five provinces (see Table A29, GÖG/ÖBIG 2011a).
    "Regarding syringes sold to drug users at pharmacies, only few data are available. In Styria, a total of 216,000 syringes are estimated to be sold to drug users at pharmacies, and the estimate for Carinthia is 60,000. Graz already registered a massive rise in the number of syringes exchanged in the previous year, and in 2011 a further increase was recorded, reaching 564,908 syringes
    (i.e. a 60% rise compared to 2010).
    "In spite of the structural changes in Vienna's low-threshold services resulting from the rebuilding works on Karlsplatz square 49, the number of syringes exchanged in Vienna has remained almost at the level of previous years, with only a small decrease being apparent (2009: 2,846,993; 2010: 2,817,160; 2011: 2,764,869). However, in 2011 the contacts with clients in the context of syringe exchange fell by more than 50% compared to 2009 (2009: 279,158 contacts with clients; 2011: 118,703 contacts with clients). In other words, clients have tended to exchange more syringes at a time (VWS 2012a). As contacts with clients are an important component of low-threshold work, the background of this development is being analysed in the context of an evaluation study (VWS 2011a)."

    Source: 

    Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, "2012 National report (2011 Data) to the EMCDDA by the National Reitox Focal Point: Austria: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues" (Vienna, Austria: GOG/OBIG, October 2012), pp. 75-76.
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/html.cfm/index213783EN.html
    http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_213784_EN_Austria_NR201...