Spain country overview

Spain country overview

Map of Spain

About NFP: 

The Spanish national focal point is located within the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs, a government organisation under the auspice of the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. The Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs is entrusted with coordination of different aspects of drug policy, ranging from drug trafficking to responses to the drug problem.

E-mail addresses have been inserted in a way discouraging spam. Please replace [a] by @ before actually using any of the e-mail addresses.

Last updated: Monday, May 30, 2016

Drug use among the general population and young people

Content for prevalence: 

A general population survey on drug use (EDADES) among people aged 15–64 living in family households has been carried out in Spain on a biennial basis since 1995. The latest survey was carried out in 2013 with a sample of 23 136 respondents. The survey found that cannabis was the most commonly used illicit substance in Spain, with 30.4 % of the respondents reporting lifetime use, followed by cocaine at 10.3 %, ecstasy at 4.3 % and amphetamines at 3.8 %. There are some indications that the prevalence of recent use for most illicit substances has declined slightly since 2009. In 2013 last year prevalence of cannabis use was 9.2 % (9.6 % in 2011; 10.6 % in 2009), and last month prevalence was 6.6 % (7.0 % in 2011; 7.6 % in 2009). Last year use of cocaine declined from 2.7 % in 2009 to 2.2 % in 2013, while experimentation was 1.3 % in 2009 and 1.0 % in 2013. Reported prevalence of recent ecstasy and amphetamine use did not change significantly in the period 2009–13 and their use has remained at low levels. Prevalence of illicit substance use is higher in younger age groups. Thus lifetime prevalence of cannabis use was 40.2 % among young adults (aged 15–34), which indicates a slight increase between 2011 and 2013 and might highlight that ‘experimentation’ with cannabis has become more ‘habitual’ among today’s younger generation. However, continuity of use is fairly low. Only 17 % had used cannabis within the last year, and 12.2 % within the last month. Those aged 15–24 were the most frequent users of cannabis in the last month (14.7 % in 2011 and 2013). There are also indications that although the overall prevalence of cannabis use seems to be declining, those who continue to use it do so almost daily. Recent use of cocaine is most prevalent among those aged 15–34, while in general reported lifetime prevalence of cocaine base and heroin use was higher among people over the age of 34. Use of all illicit substances remains more prevalent among males than females. The study indicates the prevalence of use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) remained stable between 2011–13, with 3 % of adults reporting ever having used them and with the highest prevalence rates among respondents aged 25–34. As with other illicit substances, the use of new psychoactive drugs was reported by more males than females.

The use of illicit psychoactive drugs is concentrated in sub-groups of people who have often used several different drugs in a given period. Polydrug use remains a very common consumption pattern, with about half of those who used psychoactive substances reporting having used two or more substances in a given period, with licit drugs (particularly alcohol) almost always present, and with greater prevalence among those aged 18 and over.

The national survey on drug use among students aged 14–18 (ESTUDES) has been conducted every second year in Spain since 1995. The most recent was conducted in 2014. It found that the most commonly used illicit drug was cannabis, with lifetime prevalence of 29.1 %, which, contrary to the results of general population studies, indicates a reduction in experimental use compared to the previous studies (since 2004). However, there has been a slight increase in proportion of students who have used cannabis in last 30 days (18.6 % in 2014; 16.1 % in 2012). Lifetime prevalence rates for other illicit drugs were 3.5 % for cocaine, 1.4 % for amphetamines, 1.2 % for ecstasy and 1.0 % for heroin. The study also measured the use of NPS, and found lifetime prevalence ranging between 0.5 % and 1.3 % for different substances.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the Statistical bulletin for more information


Content for prevention: 

In Spain, drug prevention is organised and financed through the National Plan on Drugs, and at the level of autonomous communities through Regional Drug Plans and Municipal Drug Plans, while community-based programmes may also receive funding from the fund of assets seized from illegal drug trafficking and other related offences, and very occasionally also from some foundations. The main features of prevention policy are a focus on both licit and illicit substances, strong cooperation with the educational system, and important interventions in selective and indicated prevention.

Prevención basada en la evidencia, a promising initiative that set up an inventory of evidence-based programmes for Spain similar to the Green List in Germany, is now under threat due to lack of funding.

Schools continue to be the preferred settings for universal prevention work in autonomous communities, with a wide variety of manualised prevention programmes in the classrooms, extracurricular activities and also facultative training. Few of these have been evaluated so far. In the last five years, however, the reports from autonomous provinces indicated a decrease in the number of schools participating in the prevention programmes. Community-based prevention programmes organised by health centres are also increasingly available in schools. These programmes aim to increase the engagement of the health centre sector as points of reference in school- and community-based prevention. Their stress is on information provision, through a range of support materials. Schools provide parents with educational talks, distribute materials, and offer orientation and guidance services and informal courses. Increasing numbers of ‘parents’ schools’ are also available online, which inform parents about drugs and give advice about parenting skills. Prevention programmes based in universities have emerged in recent years. These programmes focus mainly on information provision and awareness raising, apply mainly peer-education methods and are delivered either online or via students’ university residences.

A new initiative for family-based prevention, Prevención Familiar, has set up a mutual empowerment initiative with parents’ associations, providing materials for professionals and families.

Universal community-based prevention programmes are largely provided through alternative leisure programmes in public places such as youth clubs, sports centres, schools and community centres. The majority of activities are recreational and sports-related. Programmes conducted in places where drug use is common, such as around bars, nightclubs and music concerts, are carried out by peer mediators who work to identify problematic cases and provide information and advice about drugs and their various forms of use, but environmental approaches in this setting are rare. Only a few autonomous regions implement programmes, such as Platform for Quality Leisure in the Balearic Islands, Q for Quality in Catalonia and Responsible Serving of Alcoholic Beverages in Castilla and Leon.

Selective prevention with vulnerable groups is a priority in the Action Plan on drugs, and a substantial proportion of the preventive efforts in this area are focused on minors in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and those in specific educational or residential centres. There are also selective prevention programmes for families at risk, female former drug users with children, and specific programmes for ethnic minorities and for young people with problems related to drug addiction and broken families as a result of drug use.

Empecemos (Let’s Begin) is a well-researched indicated prevention programme with promising long-term outcomes for disruptive children in Galicia.

Mass media campaigns continue to play a significant role, but most recent efforts have been put into environmental strategies, above all in relation to alcohol policies.

See the Prevention profile for Spain for more information

Problem drug use

Content for problem drug use: 

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. The new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

In 2013 it was estimated that there were 65 684 high-risk heroin users in Spain (range: 52 122–79 173). This corresponds to a rate of 2.04 (range: 1.62–2.46) per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64. The estimated number of recent injectors in Spain ranged from 7 971 to 11 786, or 0.37 to 0.24 per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64, with a central estimate of 9 879 (a rate of 0.30 per 1 000 inhabitants). The estimates indicate a decline in the number of high-risk heroin users and injecting drug users in Spain.

Based on the 2013 general population survey, the estimated number of high-risk cocaine (powder) users was 92 406 (95 % confidence interval (CI): 70 378–114 434), or 2.91 per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64 (95 % CI: 2.22–3.61).

Data from the same general population survey suggest that 2.56 % of 15- to 64-year-olds in Spain use cannabis daily or almost daily.

Look for High-risk drug use in the Statistical bulletin for more information

Treatment demand

Content for treatment demand: 

The treatment demand indicator (TDI) is a registry, established in 1987, that gathers data on specialised drug treatment admissions in Spain. The data are collected from each region and collated at the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs. The coverage of the TDI data is estimated at 90 % of the public outpatient treatment centres in the country. In addition, about 35 % of all Spanish prisons submit data to TDI.

In 2013 the data on treatment demand was gathered from 483 outpatient treatment centres and 28 treatment units in prisons.

A total of 51 946 clients entered treatment in 2013, which is an increase when compared to 2012 data, and at the level reported in 2008–11. Of these, 28 239 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. The data on people entering drug treatment showed that cocaine (chlorhydrate and/or crack) was the primary drug for 38 % of all treatment clients, followed by cannabis at 33 % and opioids at 25 %. Among new treatment clients, 46 % were treated for cannabis, 38 % for cocaine and 11 % for opioids. In Spain there has been a gradual decline in opioid-related treatment demands from the early 2000s with a parallel increase in the cocaine-related treatment entries, which continues to be the substance that generates the greatest number of treatment entries. The number of cocaine-related treatment demands has also decreased in recent years, and the decline in treatment demands due to heroin has stabilised. Against this background, a progressive and significant increase in cannabis-related demands has been observed, and in 2012 treatment demands due to cannabis use exceeded the demands due to opioids and, for the first time, became the leading cause of new treatment demands.

Injecting drug use has fallen dramatically in the past 30 years among those admitted to treatment, regardless of their primary substance. Thus in 2013, among all opioid users admitted to treatment, only 16 % injected the drug, while among new treatment clients who primarily used opioids the proportion of injectors was 10 %.

In 2013 the mean age of all treatment clients was 33, while new treatment clients were on average aged 31 years old. In terms of gender distribution, 84 % of all and 83 % of new clients were male.

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information

Drug-related infectious diseases

Content for drug-related infectious diseases: 

The National AIDS Registry collects data on diagnosed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in Spain. The registry also provides data on the cause of infection, including information on injecting drug use among diagnosed AIDS cases. In the last 20 years human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS infection have represented one of the main health problems associated with drug use in Spain. However, since the end of 1990s a significant decrease has been observed in HIV infections associated with injecting drug use. The data from the National AIDS Registry show that the proportion of AIDS cases that can be attributed to injecting drug use declined from 69.7 % in 1990 to 22.5 % in 2013. New HIV infections are compiled in the Information System on New HIV Diagnoses. Regarding new HIV infections, 115 new cases were diagnosed among people who inject drugs (PWID) in 2014. The number of new HIV cases among PWID and the proportion of new HIV cases attributed to injecting drug use also declined significantly from 2004 to 2014. This decrease might be related to the improvement in access to, and availability of, maintenance treatments with methadone and the notable decrease in injecting drug use compared to other consumption patterns.

In 2013 the national overall prevalence of HIV infection among PWID (ever injectors), using data on drug treatment demand, was 30.6 % of 55 439 people tested, indicating a slight downward trend since 2006. Despite the fact that the prevalence of drug injecting is higher among men, the prevalence of HIV infection seems to be higher among women who inject drugs.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) have not been systematically monitored among Spain’s drug-using population to date. However, implementation of the new protocol for treatment demand indicator 3.0 will enable the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction to report on HBV and HCV among treatment entrants starting from 2014.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information

Drug-induced deaths and mortality

Content for drug-induced deaths: 

Since 1983 the Special Registry of Mortality due to Acute Reaction to Drugs (SR), based on forensic and toxicological sources, has collected data on deaths caused by acute reactions to drugs in specific geographical areas (administered by the Spanish national focal point). In 2013 a total of 17 autonomous communities (out of 19) provided data to the SR. Data is collected on deaths with judicial intervention where the direct and main cause is an acute adverse reaction after a non-medical and deliberate use of psychoactive substances (excluding alcohol and tobacco) amongst those aged 15–49. From 2003 onward the age group registered has been expanded to cover those aged 10–64. In 2013 the SR registered 437 drug-related deaths. Opioids are the illicit substances identified in the largest proportion of deaths; however, a decline in the prevalence of opioids in acute deaths cases was noted from 1983 to 2008, with some stabilisation thereafter. In 2013 cocaine was the third most prevalent substance identified in acute death cases, following benzodiazepines, which were the second most frequently detected substance.

In addition to the SR, the Spanish General Mortality Register (GMR), managed by the National Statistics Institute, also provides information on deaths related to drug use. Data extraction and reporting is in line with the EMCDDA definitions and recommendations.

In 2013 the GMR registered 403 drug-induced deaths according to the national definition, of which 333 were males. The average age of victims was 41.1. However, this registry is believed to underestimate the number of drug-induced deaths when compared with the registered figures in the SR.

According to the GMR, the number of deaths due to an acute reaction to drugs fell between 1999 and 2001, remained stable until 2005 at approximately 670, and has since resumed a downward trend.

The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) is 13 deaths per million in 2013, lower than the latest estimated European average of 19.2 deaths per million.

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information

Treatment responses

Content for treatment responses: 

In Spain the overall policy for drug treatment is guided by the National Drug Strategy for 2009–16, which is implemented by means of two four-year Action Plans for 2009–12 and 2013–16.

At the same time, implementation, management and evaluation of the resources and programmes for providing care for drug users come under the authority of the 17 autonomous communities (regions) and two autonomous cities. Each region is entitled to organise and deliver health interventions according to its own plans, budgets and personnel. Some have integrated treatment for drug abuse disorders within primary care units, some within mental health services, and some have a separate treatment network that retains a connection with the general healthcare system. As a general rule, care is organised on three levels. The level of primary healthcare acts as gatekeeper, the secondary level provides integrated treatment services, and tertiary level care units supply highly specialised and long-term care, such as detoxification or residential treatment.

The Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs, based within the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality, is responsible for monitoring and collecting data at the national level on the above-mentioned activities.

The public sector is the primary provider of treatment, followed by non-government organisations (NGOs) and private organisations. Drug treatment is mostly funded by the public budget of the central government, autonomous communities and cities and by some municipalities, usually the big cities.

A specific drug dependence care network is widely distributed throughout the country. Therapeutic provision comprises outpatient and inpatient treatment networks.

The outpatient network includes low-threshold services (including 12 supervised drug consumption facilities, 58 social emergency centres and 34 mobile units) and 499 specialised drug treatment centres; the specialised drug treatment centres also include mental health units, are the most numerous facilities and constitute the backbone of the treatment system. A team of multidisciplinary staff usually manage clients in outpatient settings, providing psychosocial treatment, case management and referral to other services. Screening of clients’ mental health, and mental health services, are available to a lesser extent, while part of these services provides outreach for clients in the community.

The inpatient network includes 56 hospital detoxification units, 42 support apartments for treatment and social reintegration, therapeutic communities (the most numerous and characteristic facility within the network, in total about 115), and 82 penitentiary centres.

Opioid substitution treatment (OST) is available at about 2 000 specialised outpatient centres, at other health and mental health centres, at inpatient facilities and in prisons. Pharmacies are involved in dispensing medication to patients. According to the amended Spanish Royal Decree 5/1996, methadone and buprenorphine treatment can be initiated by specialised medical doctors and treatment centres. Quality standards and monitoring systems for clients in OST exist at the level of the autonomous communities, and data are reported to the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs.

Methadone was introduced and licensed as a treatment in 1990. The latest available estimate of the total number of patients in methadone maintenance treatment in 2013 was 59 059, and it is free for clients.

The buprenorphine/naloxone combination is offered by the National Health Service, but is mainly used at low doses for clients who were stabilised on methadone. In 2013 around 2 895 clients were receiving this treatment. Clients receiving the buprenorphine/naloxone combination must partially cover the commercial costs of the medication.

Overall, there is a declining trend in the number of clients receiving OST in Spain since 2002, which is consistent with other data indicating an overall decline in heroin users in the last two decades.

See the Treatment profile for Spain for additional information

Harm reduction responses

Content for harm reduction responses: 

The reduction of drug-related risk and harm is one of the principal objectives of the National Drug Strategy for 2009–16. Particular focus is given to activities that facilitate contacts with drug injectors, provide information and education, and promote behaviour and practice change. National priorities for the prevention of infectious diseases among drug users include support to needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), voluntary counselling and testing for infections, and hepatitis vaccination programmes.

Harm reduction services are provided by a large public network of facilities, including social emergency centres, mobile units, pharmacies and prisons.

Most harm reduction programmes include a socio-sanitary service that offers preventive educational interventions, overdose prevention activities, sterile injecting material, testing for drug-related infections, vaccination against hepatitis A and B virus infections and emergency care and assistance to injecting drug users who are not usually in contact with any assistance intervention. In 2013 the needle and syringe programmes distributed more than 2.7 million syringes, continuing a declining trend since 2005. The drop in the number of distributed syringes is mainly due to a reduction in the number of people who inject drugs in Spain. Twelve facilities for supervised drug consumption were available in the autonomous communities of Catalonia and the Basque Country. In 2012 these facilities served almost six thousand clients.

See the Harm reduction overview for Spain for additional information

Drug markets and drug-law offences

Content for Drug markets and drug-law offences: 

Due to its geographical position, Spain is one of the countries in the European Union most targeted by international drug traffickers, especially for cannabis and cocaine transit to other European countries. According to information from law enforcement agencies, seized cocaine generally originates from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, arrives in Spain directly or through other countries of South America, and is destined for other European countries. Practically all cannabis resin seized by the Spanish law enforcement bodies comes directly from territories under Moroccan control; however, in recent years a new route has emerged for the trafficking of cannabis products through Libya and Egypt. This route circumvents police actions, which are carried out on more traditional trafficking routes. Heroin comes from Afghanistan via Turkey and the Balkan route, and arrives in Spain mainly by air. Historically, synthetic drugs were mainly smuggled into Spain from the Netherlands and Belgium, while in 2014 there was a large seizure of ecstasy from Bulgaria. Cannabis is the only substance cultivated in Spain, and there are indications that its production has increased since 2009, and is intended to supply local demand as well as for trafficking to other European Union countries.

Data on the number and quantity of drug seizures are reported by the Criminal and Terrorism Intelligence Central Unit (CITCO) at the Ministry of Interior. Overall, the number of drug seizures has increased over the past decade, and cannabis products remain the illicit substances most frequently seized in Spain. However, in 2014 the most notable increases were reported in the number of ecstasy seizures and quantity of tablets seized, and the number and quantities of amphetamines seized. Thus, in 2014, a total of 3 054 seizures involved ecstasy and 559 221 tablets containing the substance were seized. Amphetamine was involved in a total of 4 005 seizures, and 561.544 kg of amphetamine sulphate and 440 539 tablets of the substance were seized. In 2014 six laboratories were dismantled in Spain, two of which had been set up to manufacture amphetamines, two for the secondary extraction of cocaine and one for the production of heroin. An overall decline in cannabis resin seizures has been noted since 2008; however, in 2014 a total of 379 762 kg of resin was seized, which is more than the 319 257 kg seized in 2013. The rise in the quantity of cannabis resin seized is linked to a diversification of its trafficking routes through Egypt and Libya. The quantity of herbal cannabis seized in 2014 was 15 174 kg, which is less than the record high quantity of 17 535 kg seized in 2011, but more than the amounts seized during 1998–2010. In 2014 a total of 270 741 cannabis plants were seized, which is more than in 2013. With regard to cocaine, the total number of seizures and quantities seized were slightly below the level of 2013, indicating a declining trend in cocaine seizures since 2009. Further analysis shows a reduction mainly in large and medium seize seizures, while the number of small scale seizures has remained fairly stable in recent years. The number of heroin seizures increased slightly in 2014 when compared to 2013, while the quantities seized were smaller (244.44 kg and 282 kg respectively).

In 2014 a total of 420 003 people were charged with drug-law offences (for trafficking, possession and use), of which 86 % were cannabis offences, followed by 10 % cocaine offences and 2 % heroin offences.

Look for Drug-law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data

National drug laws

Content for National drug laws: 

The Law on the Protection of Citizens’ Security (2015), Art. 36, establishes drug consumption and personal possession in public places as serious order offences punishable by administrative sanctions, primarily fines of EUR 601–30 000. For minors, the fine can be suspended if the offender voluntarily attends treatment, rehabilitation or counselling activities. Drug trafficking offences and penalties are defined in the Penal Code, Arts. 368–378. Penalty ranges are determined by the seriousness of the health damages associated with the drugs and any aggravating and mitigating circumstances that may exist, such as selling to minors or the sale of large quantities. Sentences can be between one and three years if the drugs do not cause serious health damage, and up to six years when they do. When aggravating circumstances exist, penalties can be up to 20 years and 3 months in prison. In all cases a fine is also imposed, and substances, instruments of crime and profits are confiscated; disqualification from professions is also an option. Both legal entities and individuals may be punished. Under Art. 376, prison sentences may be reduced if an offender who was dependent at the time of the crime then successfully completes a detoxification treatment.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information

National drug strategy

Content for National drug strategy: 

The National Drug Strategy for 2009–16 is comprehensive and focuses on illicit drugs, alcohol and other substances. It is built around four pillars: (i) prevention; (ii) risk reduction and harm reduction; (iii) treatment and social reintegration; (iv) supply reduction; and is supported by four cross-cutting or transversal areas: (i) improvement of scientific knowledge; (ii) training; (iii) international cooperation; (iv) coordination; and (v) evaluation. The strategy has 14 objectives, including: reducing the use of legal and illegal drugs; delaying the age of first contact with drugs; guaranteeing quality assistance adapted to the needs of all people affected by drug use; reducing or limiting the harm caused to drug users’ health; and facilitating their social integration.

The second four-year Action Plan to implement the strategy covers the period 2013–16. Following a multi-stakeholder consultation process the Action Plan was centred around four overarching principles: (i) making sure resources are efficient and optimised; (ii) establishing coordination with participator leadership; (iii) ensuring quality; (iv) making sure actions are feasible. Thirty-two individual actions are designed to support the implementation of these four principles in practice. In particular, the current Action Plan places an emphasis on ‘a transversal vision with a gender approach, incorporating the specific needs of women in all the actions and interventions proposed’.

Spain is a decentralized state consisting of 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each has an organisational structure that acts as an Autonomous Community Drugs Plan to implement drug policies in their respective territories. They have all developed their own drug strategies. Major Spanish cities (particularly Madrid and Barcelona) also have competences in the financing, planning and management of drug treatment resources and programmes within their territory. These are normally carried out in cooperation with the Plans of the Autonomous Communities of these cities.

Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

Content for Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs: 

The Spanish Council of Drug Addiction and other Addictions is responsible for coordination at the inter-ministerial level. The purpose of this Council is to improve the development and implementation of policies and actions related to illicit drugs and other addictions. It is works to reduce harms for individuals, families and society and to coordinate the work of other structures, such as the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs, operating in the drug policy area.

The Government Delegate for the National Plan on Drugs carries out the function of coordinating the different institutions at the central administrative, regional/autonomous community and local administrative levels that are included in the National Plan on Drugs. The role has the status of a directorate-general and reports to the General Secretary for Social Policy of the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. The Government Delegate for the National Plan on Drugs is the national coordinator of drug policy in Spain.

The sectoral conference (at the political level) of the National Plan on Drugs is the means of cooperation between central government and the administrations of the autonomous communities and cities. Chaired by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality, it is made up of the Inter-ministerial Group and the Regional Ministers of the Departments of the Autonomous Regions, which have been assigned responsibility for drug policy in their respective territories.

The Inter-autonomic Commission (management scope), chaired by the Government Delegate for the National Plan on Drugs, reports to the sector conference, which is made up of all the deputy directors-general of the government delegation and those responsible for the regional drug plans (commonly known as regional drug commissioners).

There is a drug commissioner in each of the 17 autonomous communities and in two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). They communicate with the Government Delegation through their participation in the Inter-autonomic Commission and the sector conference.

The Joint Congress–Senate Commission for the Study of the Drug Problem consists of members from both chambers in the Spanish Parliament (Congress of Deputies and Senate). It writes reports on drug issues and makes proposals to the government in this area.

Public expenditure

Content for Public expenditure: 

In Spain the National Drug Strategy and Action Plans have no associated budgets and there is no review of executed expenditure. One study looked at the social costs of drug use and included an estimate of drug-related expenditure (1). The study did not, however, distinguish between public and private expenditure.

Spanish authorities provide a partial estimate of drug-related public expenditure by central government and the autonomous regions (communities and cities) every year. However, the estimate does not cover all sectors and includes mostly labelled expenditure (2). Comparability over time is limited because reporting entities and data collection methods have changed.

In 2013 labelled drug-related public expenditure was estimated to represent 0.03 % of gross domestic product (GDP) (Table 1). Most of the funds (65 %) were spent by the autonomous communities and cities, and the central government spent 35 %. Data for 2012 shows that, in the autonomous regions, 84.4 % was spent on treatment, 12.98 % on prevention and the rest on research and institutional cooperation. Estimates for the total expenditure by local government are not available. The available information does not allow the total size and trends in drug-related public expenditures to be reported.

Table 1: Labelled drug-related public expenditure, 2013.

Government levels

Expenditure (thousand EUR)

% of total


Autonomous communities and cities

221 011

65 (a)

Central government

116 310

35 (a)


337 321

100 (a)

% of GDP



(a) EMCDDA calculations.

Source: National annual report of Spain (2013).

  • (1) A. Garcia-Altes, J. M. Olle, F. Anoñanzas and J. Colom (2002), ‘The social cost of illegal drug consumption in Spain’, Addiction 97, pp. 1145–1153.
  • (2) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.

Drug-related research

Content for Drug-related research: 

In Spain, biomedical research and health sciences are important aspects of the national research and development agenda which is set under the framework of the Spanish Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSSTI) 2013–20 and the National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation (NPSTRI) 2013–16. This effort is funded through the general state budget. Public funds are assigned through public tenders or calls, and proposals are selected taking scientific and technical criteria into account, as well as technological viability, entrepreneurial and commercial criteria based on peer evaluation committees.

Regarding research on drugs and drug addictions, the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs (Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality) is the national entity responsible for directing and coordinating drug-related research activities. Priority areas for research are basic, clinical, social, epidemiological and methodological areas. The drug-related research framework is defined by the SSSTI and the NPSTRI, and by the National Strategy on Drugs 2009–16 and the Action Plan on Drugs 2013–16. In order to meet the research-related objectives of the National Strategy on Drugs 2009–16, the Action Plan on Drugs 2013–16 promotes (i) surveys of the general population and young high school students; (ii) the compilation of data on treatment, emergencies and mortality; (iii) the strengthening of the surveillance systems with new tools and epidemiological indicators on the use of drugs, such as the problematic drug use indicator or the drug-related infectious diseases indicator; (iv) research and analysis of data on drug use in areas such as gender, the workplace, polydrug use, etc.; (v) the dissemination of data from the Information System through publications and online media; (vi) the consolidation of the Early Warning System for the detection of new psychoactive substances; (vii) research networks with a clinical and preventive focus, integrating the existing drug-related networks and research centres in Spain; and (viii) the preparation of a consensus document on criteria for the accreditation of drug demand reduction programmes and the set-up of a portal on best practices.

University departments and research networks are the main actors undertaking drug-related research. National scientific journals and specialised websites are the main channels for the national dissemination of drug-related research findings. Recent drug-related studies funded by the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs mainly focused on basic and clinical research on alcohol, cocaine and cannabis.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

Content for Data sheet: 

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max.      
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) 2013   2.05 0.2 10.7      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   24.8% 4% 90%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   10.9% 2% 89%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2014   31.0% 7% 52%      
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2014   EUR 57 EUR 23 EUR 140      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   3.3% 0% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   2.2% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   38.2% 0% 38%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   38.0% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2014   41.0% 20% 64%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2014   EUR 58 EUR 47 EUR 107      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   1.2% 0% 3%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   0.6% 0% 1%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   1.3% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   1.4% 0% 75%      
Purity (%) :   : 1% 49%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2014   EUR 28 EUR 3 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   1.5% 0% 6%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   0.7% 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.4% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   0.6% 0% 2%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) :   : 27 mg 131 mg      
Price per tablet (EUR) 2014   EUR 11 EUR 4 EUR 16      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) :   : 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2013   17.0% 0% 24%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2013   9.2% 0% 11%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2013   32.6% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2013   45.7% 7% 77%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2013   10.8% 3% 15%      
Potency — resin (%) 2013   14.5% 3% 29%      
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2014   EUR 5 EUR 3 EUR 23      
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2014   EUR 6 EUR 3 EUR 22      
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) :   : 2.7 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) 2013   0.3 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (cases / million) 2014   2.5 0.0 50.9      
HIV prevalence (%) 2013   30.6% 0% 31%      
HCV prevalence (%) :   : 15% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2014   13.0 2.4 113.2      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2013   2 269 112 382 7 199 660      
Clients in substitution treatment 2013   61 954 178 161 388      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2013   51 946 271 100 456      
New clients 2013   28 239 28 35 007      
All clients with known primary drug 2013   51 946 271 97 068      
New clients with known primary drug 2013   28 239 28 34 088      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2007   278 797 537 282 177      
Offences for use/possession 2014   398 422 13 398 422      

Key national figures and statistics

Content for Key national figures and statistics: 

b Break in time series.

e estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

: Not available.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2014.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

  Year   EU (28 countries) Source
Population  2014 46 512 199 506 944 075 bep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014 9.7 %  11.3 % bep Eurostat
25–49 38.2 %  34.7 % bep
50–64 18.7 %  19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2014 91 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2013 25.7 % p : Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2015 22.1 % 9.4 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2015 48.3 % 20.3 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2014 141.7  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2014.1
At risk of poverty rate 5  2014 22.2 % 17.2 % SILC

Contact information for our focal point

Address and contact: 

Government Delegation for National Plan on Drugs (Delegación del Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas)

Plaza de España, 17
E-28008 Madrid
Tel. +34 91 822 61 25
Fax +34 91 822 60 95

Head of national focal point: Mr Francisco de Asís Babín Vich

E-mail addresses have been inserted in a way discouraging spam. Please replace [a] by @ before actually using any of the e-mail addresses