New increase in cocaine consumption in Europe

3 million Europeans used cocaine last year, and 13 acknowledged having done so at some point in their lives. This drug is still the most widely consumed stimulant in the EU, according to latest study by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The same study shows that 7% of Europeans used cannabis last year, a fact that, despite everything, is declining.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction has published its annual 2009 report, which offers a look at drug addiction in Europe and rates of consumption of the most popular substances.

According to the report, polydrug use is also a major concern, as the range of available substances grows and drug-taking repertoires become increasingly complex. But on a more positive note, new data confirm a continued fall in cannabis use, particularly among young people.

Some 13 million European adults (15–64 years) have tried cocaine in their lifetime. Of these, 7.5 million are young adults (15–34 years), 3 million of whom have used it in the last year. Cocaine use in the EU remains concentrated in western EU countries, but elsewhere in Europe consumption remains low. In highest-prevalence countries Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Italy and the UK, recent surveys show that use in the last year among young adults ranged from 3.1 % to 5.5 %. In most reporting countries, recent data point to a stable or rising trend in last-year use, despite the efforts under the European Action on Drugs is a Commission initiative under the EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009-2012. This initiative was launched in June 2009 to seek a European response to a growing problem which is no respecter of borders and to the potentially devastating economic and social consequences of drug abuse, particularly among the youth.

As for the heroine, the most popular opioid among the approximately 1,2 million users in the EU and Norway, after hte decline in heroin-related problems from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, indicators of opioid trends (new demands for treatment, deaths, seizures) still point to worrying developments. New data also suggest that recruitment to heroin use is still occurring, albeit moderately.

Around 74 million Europeans (15–64 years), have tried cannabis in their lifetime, around 22.5 million of them having used it in the last year. This makes cannabis still Europe’s most commonly consumed illicit drug (Chapter 3, Table 3). But, following marked increases in use through the 1990s and early 2000s, new European data confirm the drug’s declining popularity, particularly among the young, reinforcing the analysis in last year’s report.

But the numbers of regular and intensive cannabis users in Europe are less encouraging. Up to 2.5 % of all young Europeans could be using cannabis on a daily basis, representing a large population at risk and in potential need of assistance.

The EMCDDA report warns about polydrug use, which increases risks and complicates treatment. Moreover, it insists that a defining factor in Europe’s substance use problem is the concomitant consumption of alcohol. Almost all polydrug use repertoires show the presence of alcohol.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was established in 1993 to harmonize drug policies of the Member States and to provide accurate, objective, reliable and comparable information on drugs and drug addiction phenomena and their consequences.