In 2017, 7.6% of the Swiss population aged 15 to 64 said that they had already taken an illegal substance (excluding cannabis). In 2002, this figure was 3.2%. Considerably more men (9.9%) than women (5.2%) consume illegal drugs. 1.5% of the Swiss population (aged 15 to 64) took illegal drugs in the past 12 months.      

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

The consumption of illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and LSD can have various negative effects. For example, their use can lead to risky behaviour, have a negative effect on memory and mental health and lead to serious addiction and physical harm. In addition to the negative effects on the consumer themselves, people close to the addicted person are also often under enormous strain.

The indicator provides information about the extent of the consumption of illegal substances in the population and on groups at risk.


This indicator was calculated on the basis of data from the Swiss Health Survey.

It shows the percentage of 15 to 64 year-olds living in private households in the Swiss population, who have consumed illegal substances (excluding cannabis).

The indicator is based on the DURECONS* index from the Swiss Health Survey. It should be noted that the total sum of the individual substances (for lifetime prevalence) does not show the share of people in the population who have once taken an illegal substance. The reason for this is that there are people who indicate that they have taken more than one substance. 

Population surveys suffer from the problem of underestimating the actual extent of illegal drug consumption. The main reasons for this is that it is hard to reach consumers with the survey tools (telephone and paper questionnaire) and the reliability of answers (illegality of drug use). Generally, the number of cases detected, with the exception of cannabis, are very low (cf. Laubereau et al., 2014).

For reasons of comparability with other countries, consumption is represented only up to age 64. Prior to 2002, older people were not asked the question about consumption of illegal substances in the survey. For this reason, the representation of consumption is limited to the period from 2002 onwards.

When comparing the years shown, it should be borne in mind that in the surveys from 2012 onwards, there was no specific question about methadone consumption, which came under the category of “other drugs”. This change should be taken into account when comparing the values with those of previous years.

An explanation of socio-demographic variables can be found in the document: Dimension description

* Description in German; French and Italian can be chosen



  • Laubereau, B. et al. (2014): Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer evidenzbasierten Beurteilung des illegalen Drogenkonsums in der Schweiz. Interface, Lucerne: Study (in German).

Further information

  • Addiction Switzerland: Website (in German, French, and Italian)

Media enquiries

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

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