UK Drug Deaths Soar


LONDON: British deaths from ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines have rocketed 47 per cent in the past year.The toll topped 1500 for the first time, fuelled by a rise in so-called “recreational hard drugs taken by weekend users.
Ecstasy, cocaine and speed are increasingly used by young people who take cocktails of drugs every weekend.The findings emerged in a study of coroners reports which suggested stronger tablets, easier availability, falling prices and the growing popularity of drug cocktails were behind the rising death toll.
Dr Fabrizio Schifano, who led the research at the European Centre for Addiction Studies at St George’s Hospital Medical School in South London, said recreational users did not see themselves as addicts or considered they were at risk of dying’  Schifana said.
Many weekend users took a cocktail of drugs and alcohol in sessions of up to 12  hours.In dozens of fatal cases, the victims also smoked cannabis.Cocaine was involved in 147 deaths lost year, a 47 per cent rise on 2001, Amphetamines were linked to 53 deaths, a 60 per cent rise. There were 64 ecstasy-related deaths, up 34 per cent.
Dr Schifono so that even a small amount of a drug could kill a hardened user who had built up a tolerance over months or years. In a process called “reverse tolerance”, the user suddenly become acutely sensitive and died.The first death in Britain from a new synthetic form of morphine called Oxycontin was recorded ast year.Called “hillbilly heroin” it has killed hundreds in the US.Overal drug-related deaths rose by about 6 per cent on 2001 last year – from 1495 to 1583, About 45 per cent were due to heroin, morphine and other drugs.The greatest increase in drug-related deaths were in West London. Brcdgend and Glamorgan Volleys, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, North Northumberland and East Lancashire.

Source:Sunday Times(Australia) Oct 2003

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