Background: Alcohol and drug misuse is a social and health phenomenon of great relevance in the European Union (EU). One indicator of scientific production in a given area is the analysis of publications included in bibliographic databases. Scientific production on alcohol and drug misuse was analysed in EU member countries, and comparisons were made between countries. Methods: Analysis of articles on alcohol and drug misuse published during the period 1976-2000 by institutions based in a country of the EU, indexed by PsycINFO. Results: A total of 4825 citations was retrieved. Great Britain published 38.6%, while Sweden, Germany and Spain accounted for a further 30%. The articles dealt with drug and alcohol usage (12.8%), substance abuse (53.5%) and drug and alcohol rehabilitation (34.5%). The articles were published in 13 different languages, more than three-quarters being in English. Spanish was the second language, and was followed by French, German, Dutch and Italian. The articles were published in 521 different journals, and 62 of these published more than 10 articles. The journals publishing most were Addiction, Alcohol and Alcoholism and Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Sixty-eight per cent of the articles were signed by more than one author, and the index of collaboration, between 1996 and 2000, was 3.24. Discussion and conclusions: PsycINFO is useful for making comparisons between countries, because it includes the name and country of the institution. The number of publications in the EU on alcohol and drug misuse increased over the quarter-century analysed. The most used language was English, as it also is for PsycINFO as a whole, and a tendency towards its increased use was observed. Classification of the articles by subject by the Classification Code is too general, and makes it difficult to distinguish between the areas it proposes. Production tends to be concentrated in journals dealing specifically with drug dependence and psychiatry. The index of collaboration is similar to that found in other scientific areas.