Germany: Increase in Addictions

In Germany, taking painkillers and cannabis use is increasing, according to the the epidemiological addiction survey 2018, Comparatively smoking cigarettes and alcohol use is going down, but is still one of the highest in the region.

The study surveyed more than 9,000 randomly selected individuals aged 18 to 64 years about their consumption and addictive behavior. In addition, researchers led by Ludwig Kraus from the Institute for Therapy Research in Munich analyzed nine addiction reports published since 1995.

The study shows that while smoking and alcohol use is decreasing, Germany remains at the highest end for both in the region. There are 14.4 million smokers and on average every German consumes almost 11 liters of pure alcohol per year.

Nearly 14% of respondents were dependent on at least one substance. Projected to the population, this is equivalent to 7 million out of 50 million 18- to 64-year-olds.

Key findings


  • Alcohol remains the most commonly used drug in Germany, despite the declining trend.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents has used alcohol in the last 30 days. This equates to about 37 million out of 50 million people.
  • 34.5% of the studied population binge on alcohol.
  • Alcohol plays a role in 45% of all fatally injured third parties, such as pedestrians, in road traffic accidents.
  • Economic costs of alcohol consumption amount to just under €27 billion per year.


  • 15% of respondents said they had smoked at least one cigarette a day over the last 30 days, which means there are 7.8 million regular smokers.
  • Tobacco consumption has fallen over the past 20 years. The researchers attribute this to measures such as the higher tobacco tax and the non-smoking protection law of 2007.
  • Use of electrical inhalers is increasing. 4% of respondents said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month.

Cannabis and other drugs

  • 7% of respondents use cannabis in the past year, and the trend is rising. Accordingly, the use of cannabis among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 is also increasing significantly.
  • Women are increasingly taking other illegal drugs such as LSD or ecstasy.


  • The use of painkillers is increasing in Germany. More than 30% of respondents had taken painkillers over the past 30 days that had not been prescribed by the doctor.

For further reading:

Study: Germany Has an Alcohol Problem