A recent report by The Guardian uncovered that the purity of street cocaine throughout Europe is at its highest level in a decade and the sum of people seeking treatment for cocaine use has increased. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found that the price of cocaine has continued to remain stable across the continent and could be a contributing factor.
Alarmingly, there has been a major rise in first time admissions to specialist treatments relating to cocaine abuse. A total of 30,300 people entered treatment in 2016 for the first time, more than a fifth of the figure in 2014. An estimated 17 million European adults aged 15 - 64 have tried cocaine during their life time, making the dangerous substance the most commonly abused illicit drug in Europe.
The study highlighted that the UK had the highest rate of cocaine use, with 4% of the UK population between 15 - 34 years old having used cocaine in the past year. The UK was followed by the Netherlands (3.7%), Spain (3%) and Ireland (2.9%). Overall it is estimated that 92 million people in Europe have tried illegal drugs in their lifetime.
Discussing the findings, EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeal explained that the statistics are a consequence of increased cocaine production in South America and stated, “These changes underline the growing importance of providing effective prevention, treatment and harm-reduction interventions for cocaine users.” In 2016, over 7,929 deaths in Europe were a result of an overdose that involved one or more illegal drug. From this figure, 34% occurred in the UK and 15% in Germany which is half of the European total population when combined.
These increasing statistics highlight how vital drug treatment is in responding to the ever-changing market, in which services need to adapt quickly and provide smarter approaches for drugs of abuse screening. Through significant research and development, Randox Toxicology lead the way in developing new tests and aim to minimise laboratory workflow constraints whilst maximising the scope of quality drug detection.
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