In 2018, 2.1% of the Swiss population took sleeping tablets or tranquillisers almost daily during three months. For strong painkillers, the proportion has been around 2% in recent years (latest data from 2016). For both groups of medication, the frequency of consumption rises considerably with increasing age.

This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The trend in medication misuse and dependency has been observed in Switzerland for some time. Taking painkillers, sleeping tablets or tranquillisers on an almost daily basis is regarded as problematic. Misuse of medication is when medication is taken without any clear medical indication or in unnecessary quantities. In practice, the following groups of medication are largely concerned: Strong painkillers, sleeping tablets and tranquillisers as well as stimulants and appetite suppressants.

The indicator shows the trend over time and the prevalence of chronic medication consumption in the total population. This information can facilitate the planning and assessment of prevention and regulation measures.


This indicator shows the percentage of the Swiss population aged 15 and over, who took strong painkillers, sleeping tablets or tranquillisers on an almost daily basis (at least 20 days per month) for a period of at least three months. Such consumption is regarded as problematic.

The questions were asked from 2011 to 2016 in a telephone survey conducted by Addiction Monitoring in Switzerland (n=approx. 11 000). In 2018, in an online survey (Omnibus) by the Federal Office of Public Health, only the question about sleeping tablets or tranquillisers was asked in a way that could be compared to previous years (n=approx. 5000). 

The higher percentages among the economically inactive population in the years 2011 to 2016 are due to the frequent consumption of medication among older people who are pensioners. This dimension is no longer surveyed in Omnibus.

The most representative molecules and brands for these groups are:

  • Strong painkillers like Opioids (e.g. Oxycodon®, Morphin®, Fentanyl®)
  • Sleeping tablets or tranquilizers like benzodiazepine (e.g. Temesta®, Xanax®) and Z Drugs (z.B. Stilnox®)


Further information

  • Addiction in Switzerland: Website (in German. French, and Italian)
  • Entwicklung der Verschreibung von Schmerz- und Schlafmedikamenten in der Schweiz (2021). Federal statistical office (FSO), Berne: Fact Sheet (in German); Fiche d’information (in French); Scheda informativa (in Italian)
  • Gmel, G. et al. (2018). Suchtmonitoring Schweiz - Einnahme von psychoaktiven Medikamenten in der Schweiz im Jahr 2016. Addiction in Switzerland, Lausanne: Report (in German, summary in French)
  • Kraft, E. et al. (2019). Auslegeordnung zum problematischen Gebrauch psychoaktiver Medikamente. Bericht im Auftrag des Bundesamts für Gesundheit (BAG). Ecoplan, Berne: Report (in German)

Media enquiries

Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Tel. +41 58 462 95 05

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