Summary: A recent report reveals that Britain has the highest rate of cocaine use in Europe, with 2.7% of adults aged 15 to 64 using the drug annually. This equates to approximately 1.02 million people, or one in every 37 individuals. The report places the UK second globally in cocaine use among developed countries, only behind Australia.
Cocaine Use in the UK: A Growing Public Health Concern
According to a report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Britain has emerged as the largest consumer of cocaine in Europe. The statistics indicate that 2.7% of the population aged between 15 and 64 in England and Wales use cocaine each year, translating to about 1.02 million people or one in every 37 individuals. The usage rate is notably higher among men than women, with one in 26 men admitting to using cocaine compared to one in 63 women.
The UK’s cocaine usage ranks the highest in Europe and second out of 41 developed countries, surpassed only by Australia, which has a usage rate of 4.2%. Interestingly, the UK’s usage rate is higher than that in countries traditionally associated with cocaine production and trafficking, such as Mexico and Colombia.
Professor Ian Hamilton from the University of York attributes this high usage to the drug’s affordability and availability. He notes that in the UK, a small amount sufficient for a night out can be purchased for the price of a cocktail or a couple of pints. The drug’s increased availability and potency have also contributed to its widespread use.
Dr. Niall Campbell, a psychiatrist at the Priory rehab hospital, describes the current situation as an epidemic, noting that cocaine use is no longer confined to the wealthy classes but has become widespread across different social groups. He compares the ease of obtaining cocaine to ordering a pizza.
The widespread use of cocaine has significant health implications. Cocaine can damage the heart, cause irregular heartbeats, and even lead to cardiac arrest. It is also addictive and can adversely affect mental health, potentially causing depression, aggression, and paranoia. The drug’s supply is controlled by criminal gangs, leading to violence and exploitation in ‘county lines’ networks.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show a sharp increase in cocaine-related deaths in England and Wales, with 872 deaths recorded in 2021, more than double the number in 2015. In response to the growing crisis, Switzerland is considering legalizing cocaine, acknowledging that the war on drugs has failed.
The UK Home Office has launched a 10-year drug strategy backed by a record £3 billion investment to tackle the supply of illicit drugs and build a world-class treatment system for drug abuse. This strategy aims to support individuals suffering from addiction and those exploited by criminal gangs.
Source: The Sun
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