Cocaine availability, purity, seizures and harms are all rising in Europe, to record levels in some EU countries – with south and west Europe most gripped by the drug. These are amongst the findings on Europe’s cocaine trade, published in the European Drug Report 2019.
In the 1990s, the cocaine trade firmly established itself in Europe. Today, across the EU, 12.4 million men and 5.7 million women have used cocaine in their lifetime. This includes 2.6 million young adults (15-34) who used cocaine last year. In six European countries – the UK, France, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and France – more than 2.5% of young adults use cocaine.
If you’re addicted to cocaine, you are certainly not alone. If you want to stop using, please get in touch with Addiction Helper. We have helped over 10,000 people to find specialist treatment, including residential and outpatient programmes for cocaine addiction.
Europe’s Cocaine Trade – Availability at All-Time High
The European Drug Report 2019 found that the availability of cocaine in Europe has never been higher. There are several factors that point to this conclusion.
Firstly, both the number of cocaine-related incidents and the quantities cocaine seized are at record levels in the EU –. In 2017, there were 104,000 seizures reported across Europe for a total of 140.4 tonnes of cocaine. This is double the quantity the police confiscated in 2016. Cocaine is the most frequently seized stimulant in many western and southern European countries – including the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Secondly, the price of cocaine has remained reasonably stable or fallen in Europe over recent years making it more accessible for users on lower incomes, like younger people, for example. In the UK, powder cocaine is as likely to be used in the local pub or at the football game, as at middle-class dinner parties or celebrity events. Cocaine has become a classless drug, more socially acceptable and affordable than ever.
Thirdly, the purity of cocaine at retail level is the highest in a decade. In the UK, there are reports of some cocaine dealers capitalising on this, offering higher purity or ‘finest’ cocaine at a higher price.
The ‘Uberisation’ of Europe’s Cocaine Trade
The European Drug Report 2019 also highlights a very competitive marketplace, in which cocaine dealers compete by offering additional services and technologies.
For example, there’s evidence of cocaine dealers offering fast and flexible delivery options, as well as cocaine-exclusive call centres. New dealers have been able to enter Europe’s cocaine trade via the internet using the darknet, social media, encryption and crypto-currencies to trade anonymously online.
In the UK, ‘county lines’ operations are connecting cocaine supplies in big cities to new users in smaller towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines to take orders and co-ordinate local runners. Gangs are exploiting vulnerable people, including children, to store and deliver the drugs, as well as recruit new drug users.
Increasing Cocaine Health Harms in Europe
With greater availability, purity and affordability of cocaine come the growing health harms caused by it in Europe, including addiction.
The European Drug Report 2019 reports that since 2014, there has been a 35% increase across Europe in new clients entering treatment for cocaine addiction. Much of this increase is accounted for by the UK and Italy.
European figures show that the average age of first cocaine use is 23 – with first-time treatment for cocaine problems at 34. Therefore, a typical problem cocaine user takes 11 years to seek help for addiction.
There is some evidence that crack cocaine use is spreading in Europe too. The UK is the European country most associated with crack cocaine use and addiction but there have also been recent increases in crack cocaine treatment clients in Belgium, Ireland, France, Italy and Portugal.
Although opioids are still implicated in causing the most overdose deaths, cocaine-related deaths become more numerous, including in countries like the UK. In France, a fifth of overdose deaths involved cocaine. In Slovenia, where most fatal overdoses involved heroin, cocaine was also found in one-third of cases.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment in the UK and Europe
Cocaine addiction destroys lives. If you or a loved one is affected, please call the Addiction Helper team. We offer you a confidential assessment over the telephone, so we can fully understand your situation and recommend the best course of treatment. Start your recovery now.