– UK is cocaine capital of the western world as number of young Britons using the drug shoots up by 50 per cent (Daily Mail, Nov 11, 2014):
- Men are twice as likely to die from cocaine than women
- One in seven 15 to 34-year-olds have taken cocaine
- Almost 400,000 coke-users aged under 25
British youngsters have become the greatest consumers of cocaine in the developed world, according to a major international study.
It found that numbers of young people using the drug in this country have shot up by 50 per cent over five years.
This means Britain has left other countries which face major cocaine problems – in particular the U.S. and Spain – far behind in the league table of those worst-affected.
Cocaine use among teenagers and young adults has rocketed since the 1990s as the popularity of other drugs has fallen off and prices have dropped to the point where a line of coke can be bought for just £2.
But the study by the European Union drugs monitoring agency said that consumption of cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamine in Britain still remain the highest or close to the highest in Europe.
UK COCAINE STATS
- Between 2004 and 2007 there were 282 cocaine-related deaths
- In the same period there were 376,000 users per year aged 25 or less
- And there were 133,000 over 35s using every year during that time
- Men are more than twice as likely to die from cocaine than females
- Almost one in 10 Britons aged 15-64 have taken cocaine (and one in seven aged 15-34) – the highest in Europe
- Spain next, with 8.3 per cent and Ireland fourth with 8.2 per cent
- Usage between 15-34 increased by 50 per cent since 2003
- Cannabis still more widely used than cocaine: 75.5million Europeans have smoked (one in four)
The findings brought fresh promises from ministers to tackle the supply and use of cocaine, a Class A drug which can both kill when an overdose is taken and produce high levels of dependency among users.
Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire promised police operations against big-time dealers, more treatment for addicts and new efforts to block imports.
‘Drugs destroy lives and damage our communities and this report makes clear more needs to be done to tackle the problem,’ he said.
‘I am concerned about the high levels of drug abuse and deaths in this country, particularly from cocaine.’
The European agency, the EMCDDA, said that in the five years up to 2008, cocaine use ‘increased by 50 per cent in the United Kingdom and Ireland and was stable or decreased in eight countries’.
Figures for numbers of those looking for treatment for drug dependency showed a similar picture.
‘Among the countries with the highest numbers of cocaine clients, since 2005 a stable situation or a downward trend in the number of new clients citing cocaine as their principle drug is reported in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, while the United Kingdom reports an increase.’
In a section on British drug habits produced by British experts, the report noted: ‘Recent cocaine powder use has increased significantly in a year.’
The figures show that three in 100 Britons aged between 16 and retirement age had used cocaine recently in 2008 compared to 2.3 per cent in 2007. In 2003, the level was two per cent.
Nearly one in six Britons aged under 34 said last year that they had tried cocaine at least once, and 6.2 per cent said they had used it over the previous 12 months. Some 6 per cent of 16-year-old children in this country have tried the drug.
In Spain, where cocaine use has been driven up by high levels of immigration from Latin America, the figure was 5.5 per cent.
The next in the European league table was Denmark, with 3.4 per cent, and then Ireland, with 3.1 per cent of people under 34 having used the drug over the previous year.
A reputable survey taken last year in bars and clubs in Manchester found that more than four out of five clubgoers had used cocaine.
Britain was also top of the league for users of ecstasy and amphetamine, and in the top four for cannabis use.
The popularity of cannabis has declined over the past seven years as users have been put off by the growing evidence of a link between it and mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Ecstasy and amphetamines have become less common as cocaine has become cheaper.
According to the Drugscope carity, cocaine cost £70 a gram in 2003 but can now be found as cheaply as £40 a gram. A gram, depending on purity, can provide ten or 20 hits or ‘lines’ for the user.
The falling price has been one of the major reasons why a drug that 30 years ago was used only by the wealthy and fashionable gradually spread through young professionals and to schoolchildren.