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Treatment demand for cannabis use problems: analyses of routine data from 30 European countries.

Cannabis use and treatment demand has risen in the past decade. Previous analyses of treatment demand are limited by methodological constraints or are outdated. Cross-country differences and trends in cannabis treatment demand are described using data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Two novel indicators are employed: firstly, the cannabis-attributable treatment fraction (CATF) is obtained by dividing the number of treatment entrants for cannabis use problems by the number of treatment entrants for any substance use problem, accounting for possible changes in the reporting system. Secondly, comparing the number of treatment entrants for cannabis use problems to the number of people who use cannabis (near) daily yields the treated-user-ratio (TUR), which considers a proxy for treatment need (frequent use). Across 30 countries with available data, the importance of cannabis in European treatment facilities varies greatly (CATF: min = 3%; max = 65%), with lower estimates in Eastern European countries. Across 20 countries with complete data, the CATF has risen from 29.4% in 2013 to 37.1% in 2020. The TUR calculated on 26 countries suggests that about 3 in 100 frequent users have sought treatment for their cannabis use problems. Over time, treatment demand has increased at a slower pace than treatment need in most countries. One in three treatment entrants for substance use problems in Europe are due to cannabis, with large variations between countries. There are indications for a widening treatment gap for cannabis use problems. In countries liberalising cannabis laws, monitoring changes in treatment access and demand is warranted.

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