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The Opioid Crisis

The UK is Europe’s cocaine capital with the highest number of overdose deaths

European Drug Report 2018 looks at recreational drug use in 28 EU countries plus Norway and Turkey

Cocaine is more popular in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new report which breaks down drug use across the continent.

As well as having the highest proportion of cocaine users, Britain has the highest number of drug overdose deaths and people who inject opiates of the 30 European countries.

The data was published in the European Drug Report 2018 by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

Four per cent of Britons aged 16 to 34 have used cocaine in the past year, while 11.5 per cent have used cannabis and 2.6 per cent MDMA, also known as ecstasy.

The use of cannabis, MDMA and amphetamines is a bigger problem elsewhere on the continent, and cannabis remains the most popular drug.

The authors of the report say that cocaine is increasingly available and in 2016 it reached the highest purity in a decade.

One expert said Europe must work together to curb drug use.

European Drug Report 2018 looks at recreational drug use in 28 EU countries plus Norway and Turkey

European Drug Report 2018 looks at recreational drug use in 28 EU countries plus Norway and Turkey

Based on data from 2016 or later, the drug report revealed detailed information on drug problems in 28 EU countries plus Norway and Turkey.

The results are available in an interactive map online.

The report shows the proportions of 16- to 34-year-olds who have used cannabis, cocaine, MDMA or amphetamines – a term usually used to describe drugs known as speed, meth and mephedrone – in the past year.

The United Kingdom has the highest proportion of cocaine users at four percent, closely followed by Denmark at 3.9 percent.

“The real danger with cocaine is that you don’t know how strong it is”

Ian Hamilton, a substance misuse expert at the University of York, told MailOnline: ‘It seems to be something to do with falling price and increasing strength.

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“As with any product – legal or illegal – it becomes more popular as the price goes down. And the fact that we are an island makes it easy to import.

“Cocaine is not as dangerous as some other drugs, but it has relative dangers – it depends on where you take it, who you take it with and how much.

“The real danger is that he doesn’t know how strong he is. Especially if people are naive or younger, they may not find out how powerful she is until it’s too late.”

The report says that while cannabis is still the continent’s most widely used drug, Europe’s cocaine market is “growing” and the drug is becoming more available.

“We must be concerned about the health consequences of cocaine”

The research found that the amount of cocaine residue in sewers increased between 2015 and 2017 in 26 of 31 cities.

In addition, the number of people seeking treatment for their first cocaine addiction increased by more than a fifth between 2014 and 2016.

EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeel said: “We must be concerned about the health consequences of cocaine use as we are beginning to see worrying developments.

“More people [are] first entering treatment for cocaine problems.

“These changes underscore the growing importance of providing effective prevention, treatment and harm reduction interventions for cocaine users.”

PERCENTAGE OF 16 TO 34-YEAR-OLDS IN EUROPE WHO USED DRUGS IN THE PAST YEAR – BREAKDOWN BY COUNTRY AND TYPE OF DRUG
Earth Hemp MDMA (ecstasy) Amphetamines Cocaine
Austria 14.1 1.1 0.9 0.4
Belgium 10.1 0.8 0.5 0.9
Bulgaria 10.3 3.1 1.8 0.5
Croatia 16 1.4 2.3 1.6
Cyprus 4.3 0.3 0.1 0.4
Czech R 19.4 4.1 1.7 0.7
Denmark 15.4 1.5 1.4 3.9
Estonia 13.6 2.3 2.5 1.3
Finland 13.5 2.5 2.4 1
France 21.5 2.3 0.7 2.4
Germany 13.3 1.3 1.9 1.2
Greece 4.5 0.4 0.6
Hungary 3.5 2.1 1.4 0.9
Ireland 13.8 4.4 0.6 2.9
Italy 20.7 0.9 0.3 1.9
Latvia 10 0.8 0.7 1.2
Lithuania 6 1 0.5 0.3
Luxembourg 9.8 0.4 0.1 0.6
Malta
Holland 15.7 7.4 3.6 3.7
Norway 8.6 1.6 0.5 1.3
Poland 9.8 0.9 0.4 0.4
Portugal 8 0.2 0.3
Romania 5.8 0.2 0.1 0.2
Slovakia 9.3 1.2 0.8 0.3
Slovenia 10.3 0.8 0.8 1.2
Spain 17.1 1.3 1 3
Sweden 7.3
turkey 0.4 0.1 0.1
United Kingdom 11.5 2.6 0.7 4
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Cannabis is the most used drug in the entire continent

Of the other drugs examined, the largest share of people use cannabis, followed by MDMA and amphetamines.

Cannabis is most popular in France – where 21.5 percent of young adults have used it in the past year – and around a fifth of people in Italy and the Czech Republic also use the drug.

The Netherlands has the largest proportion of MDMA users – 7.4 percent – ​​three percent more than the next two countries, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

The Dutch also ranked first in amphetamine use at 3.6 percent, followed by Estonia and Finland.

In the UK, 11.5 per cent of 16 to 34-year-olds had used cannabis, 2.6 per cent MDMA and 0.7 per cent amphetamine in the past year.

Use of cannabis and amphetamines in the country has risen slightly since last year, while MDMA has fallen and cocaine remains the same.

The European Drug Report 2018 provides a detailed breakdown of the scale of the drug problem in the UK, showing the highest numbers of high-risk opioid users and overdose deaths on the continent.

The European Drug Report 2018 provides a detailed breakdown of the scale of the drug problem in the UK, showing the highest numbers of high-risk opioid users and overdose deaths on the continent.

The UK has the highest number of overdose and injection drug deaths

Other stark statistics show the deadly impact drugs have on human health: 3,070 died of drug overdoses in 2015 – the latest figures.

This number is more than double that of Germany – the second worst affected country – which had 1,333.

High-risk opioid use – usually referring to injecting heroin – is also highest in the UK, with an estimated 330,445 people – 100,000 more than in France.

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Mr Hamilton added: “Heroin causes the most overdoses by a mile. It is often combined with benzodiazepines.

“Now more people die from heroin overdoses than from traffic accidents in our country.

“Part of this is due to an aging cohort of heroin users who use heroin for a long time and have complicated health problems that they could deal with in their 20s and 30s, but are catching up in their 40s.”

“The threats posed by drugs require a unified response”

London has one of the highest levels of cocaine in its drinking water – even though 2017 was the first year it didn’t have the most polluted water.

The amount of the drug in Barcelona’s water supply has more than doubled since 2015 – Spain also has the highest level of drug crime.

Drug crime is also highest in the other Western European countries, Germany, France and the UK, and lower – partly due to smaller populations – in Eastern Europe.

EMCDDA Board Chair Laura d’Arrigo said: “The threats posed by drugs to public health and safety in Europe continue to require a united response.

“The EU Action Plan on Drugs adopted in 2017 provides a framework for European cooperation.

“As drug problems change and new trends emerge, it is essential that our monitoring system keeps pace.

“The European Drug Report, together with 30 country reports, provides the latest analysis to help decision-makers gain a clear picture of the phenomenon and tailor the policy response to anticipate and meet new challenges.”

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