European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs

The survey is conducted in schools in participating countries over the same period and using a standard methodology. To keep up with the emergence of new risk behaviours among young people throughout Europe, the ESPAD questionnaire is constantly adapted to include new topics, while maintaining a set of core questions to track key long-term trends.

The data gathered from the surveys carried out from 1995 to the present by the ESPAD community have recently been merged to create an inclusive trend database. This remarkable effort has allowed to develop this consultation platform. To increase the use of this exceptional collection of information, this valuable tool has also been made accessible to the scientific community, with both ESPAD and non-ESPAD researchers able to apply to use the data, see the ESPAD Application platform for data access.

ESPAD is an essential tool for assessing which developments have a real public health and social relevance and which ones are of limited impact, with both aspects being important for policy formulation.

To this purpose, ESPAD provides key information for monitoring adolescent risk behaviours in Europe. These include the perceived availability of substances, early onset of substance use and prevalence estimates of substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, illicit drugs, inhalants, new psychoactive substances and pharmaceuticals). Other key indicators of intensive and high-risk substance use are also provided. Information collected comprise the prevalence of gambling for money, including online gambling, the proportion of students who gamble and display excessive or problem gambling behaviour, and the prevalence of social media use and gaming, as well as of self-perceived problem use.

For the 2019 ESPAD data collection, 99 647 students took part from 35 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, the Faroes, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine.

Methodological remarks:

This portal uses the ESPAD 1995-2019 trend database, which includes data from all of the available national
survey waves since the inception of the ESPAD project.
Users exploring and analysing data on this portal might sometimes notice minor differences with results published in the ESPAD reports. These are normal and simply due to the specific computation methods used in the reports.
It should be noted that, for the years 1995, 1999 and 2003, some countries were not able to provide the national dataset for a specific year for various reasons (e.g. changes in the PI representing the country), even though the survey was conducted. In these cases data could not be included in the ESPAD trend database, nor in the trend estimates shown in the ‘Trends 1995-2019’ section of this report. In other cases
the datasets provided for the ESPAD trend database had a different number of observations or were provided in a nonstandard format; in the latter case some information could not be included.

In ESPAD, data are weighted in to adjust the sample of some countries to the sociodemographic composition of the target population, thus producing nationally representative estimates.

Also, it has to be noted that the results noted in the ESPAD reports as “ESPAD prevalence” are ESPAD averages, i.e. non-weighted average of national prevalence estimated for all participating countries. Differently, on this portal the results obtained when selecting the chosen indicators for “All countries” or “Europe”, are calculated on the whole ESPAD sample of students, independently from the country of origin.

For more detailed information on the ESPAD methodology and the 1995-2019 trend database, see the Methodology section of the 2019 ESPAD Report or the 2019 Methodology Report on the ESPAD website.

Useful ESPAD materials:

•  Table of European countries participating in the different rounds (link: 2019_App L. Methodology Tables_Table_A, PDF, 182kb)
•  2019 ESPAD Student Questionnaire (link: ESPAD 2019 Student Master Questionnaire, PDF, 950KB)