Cocaine Use Among Young Reaches Shocking Levels

{mosimage}The number of people in the UK addicted to the ‘celebrity’ drug cocaine is out of control and has reached shocking levels, a new report has shown.

Britons consume more cocaine than almost any other country in Europe, a new report on international drug abuse is set to confirm.

Official UK figures show the government has failed to stem the tide of drug addiction, with more people dying from abuse, more drugs in circulation and more being seized.

The sorry picture of a nation of addicts follows a United Nations report in September which put Britain as having the highest levels of serious drug abuse in Europe.

The latest situation in 29 countries across the continent will be revealed on Thursday by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drugs Addiction.

Leaked UK evidence to the EMCDDA shows that although most class A drug abuse has increased by relatively small amounts, the number of people taking cocaine – including crack cocaine – continues to soar and its use has risen more than any other drug.

Britain remains firmly at the ‘top of the European league.’

Use of cocaine has more than doubled among 16 to 24-year-olds over the last seven years. While over the last decade use of the drug has almost tripled among UK adults.

Seizures of the worst form of the drug – crack cocaine – have increased by 74 per cent since 2000 – reflecting its availability within society.

Other statistics confirm this frightening picture. The number of people arrested or cautioned for cocaine offences rose to 8,1655 in 2003. While in 2005 cocaine caused the deaths of 171 people, an increase of 300 per cent in five years.

A significant drop in price has fuelled the problem and surveys indicate cocaine is fast replacing ecstasy on the club scene.

Despite the tough legal penalties for cocaine abuse, the drug continues to be associated with ‘celebrity’ and ‘glamour’. Anti-drugs campaigners said cocaine does not yet have the ‘taboo’ of other hard drugs such as heroin.

And this image is boosted by the success of celebrities linked to cocaine use such as Kate Moss and her boyfriend Pete Doherty.

Harry Shapiro, from the charity Drugscope, said: ‘Cocaine still has this celebrity cache about it, although it has percolated through society. It’s now become a more unremarkable part of a lot of people’s night out.’

The charity believes more can be done to increase ‘public awareness.’

While anti-drugs campaigner and Labour MP Paul Flynn believes promoting ‘health’ solutions, such as needle exchanges and drug substitutes, is the only way forward. Attempts to stop the supply have no hope, he said.

‘We have the harshest drugs laws in Europe and the greatest use of drugs in Europe. The truth is the present laws aren’t working. They have increased the number of drugs deaths and the amount of drug crime.’

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, described the rise in drug use in Britain as ‘staggering.’ Adding: ‘Either Europe snaps out of its state of denial…or it should brace itself for the consequences.’

A recent report from the UN revealed nearly one in every 100 people in the UK aged between 15 and 64 had a drug problem. This was the worst in Europe and more than double the French figure, three times worse than in Holland and nearly four times worse than in Germany.

Under Labour’s policy of easing laws on cannabis and promoting tolerance towards heroin users, drug abuse has shot up, the study showed.