Britons branded cocaine kings of Europe
• UK cocaine use approaching US levels as cocaine-deaths increase eightfold
• Amount of cocaine used overtakes ecstasy and speed among drug users
• 6.8% of Britons admit to cocaine use; 38 people died in Scotland last year
"We have seen a marked increase in cocaine, especially crack cocaine, over the last four years to the extent that a number of bars and clubs are spraying WD40 on their cisterns to stop people using them to snort the drug" - Peter Anderson, Streetwork UK support team manager
Story in full BRITONS are the biggest cocaine users in Europe and are increasingly likely to die from it, the European drugs agency reported yesterday.
The class A substance is fast becoming the drug of choice for Britain's youth and its use is approaching levels found in the United States.
Its easy accessibility has resulted in an eight-fold increase in cocaine deaths in the UK between 1993 and 2001. Mentions of cocaine on death certificates in Britain rose from 85 in 2000 to 171 in 2002.
According to figures released by the Registrar General for Scotland, there were 38 deaths as a result of cocaine last year, up significantly on recent years.
About nine million European adults said they had used cocaine, but that figure hides large regional variations. Britain is top of the league, with 6.8 per cent of adults admitting they had tried cocaine. In Spain, the figure was 4.9 per cent; in Italy, 4.6 per cent.
The UK also had the highest proportion of cocaine users in the 15 to 34 age group - 11.6 per cent compared with 7.7 per cent in Spain.
The annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said cocaine had become a "major element" in the European drugs scene, and cocaine-related death was a "serious and possibly under- reported problem".
The drug, which has overtaken ecstasy and speed among users, plays a role in an estimated 10 per cent of all drug deaths and could be responsible for several hundred deaths a year across the European Union, EMCDDA researchers said.
"Cocaine-related death is a serious and possibly increasing problem. In the few countries where trends can be estimated, they tend to show an increase," a spokesman said.
"These estimates now approach US figures, fuelling worries that cocaine is establishing itself as the stimulant drug of choice for many young people in parts of Europe."
The findings came as no surprise to drug workers in Scotland, who said their work with a largely transient group moving between major cities meant they spotted changes in drug trends ahead of official reports.
"We have seen a marked increase in cocaine, especially crack cocaine, over the last four years to the extent that a number of bars and clubs are spraying WD40 on their cisterns to stop people using them to snort the drug," said Peter Anderson, support team manager of Streetwork UK, an Edinburgh project which takes counselling on to the streets.
"There is easy accessibility and it is a very lucrative market for making easy money."
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: "Cocaine has a completely misplaced reputation as a glamour drug. But cocaine can destroy lives - that's why we are running an ad campaign about the dangers. We want people to make positive lifestyle options."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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