Drug abuse is increasing across the EU, with cocaine and ecstasy becoming the drug of choice for new users, an EU report shows.
“Europe remains a major market for stimulant drugs, and indicators suggest that the trend in amphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine use continues to be upwards,” the 2005 annual study from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) states.
The report is based on data provided by the 25 EU countries, plus Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Norway.
Cocaine is popular with around 9 million Europeans – or 3% of all adults – having used the drug.
Between 3 and 3.5 million are likely to have taken cocaine in the last year, while around 1.5 million are so-called current users, having used it in the last month, the report shows.
Spain, a smugglers’ gateway to the European cocaine market, and Great Britain show the highest numbers of cocaine users with roughly 4% of adult citizens having tried it in the last year
“It is time to realize that cocaine has turned into a simple street drug.
It is no longer a substance for the elite,” said Wolfgang Goetz, director of the EMCDDA while presenting the report in the European Parliament on Thursday (24 November).
Amphetamine-based drug ecstasy ranked second among drugs of choice in several of the participating countries.
Consumption was particularly high in Britain, Spain, France and the Czech Republic.
Joints outclass other drugs
Cannabis is by far the most common drug among the EU’s 460 million citizens, however.
More than 62 million Europeans have smoked cannabis at one point or another in their lives, with consumption growing dramatically since the mid 1990s.
An average of 12% of Europeans used cannabis in 2004, while the rate was 23% among Czechs, 19% among the French and British and 17% among Spaniards, the report said.
Drug-intolerant countries Sweden and Greece showed the lowest numbers in Europe on cannabis use.