EU drug report: drastic rise in synthetic drugs

Saturday, 01 Jun 2013, 14:12


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The new European drug report that was presented on Tuesday by the EU’s drugs agency shows a drastic rise in synthetic drugs also called as “legal highs”. Concerns are being raised as these synthetic stimulants are being sold on an illegal market.

While the study shows a decline in new users of heroin, less injecting and also a decline in use of cannabis and cocaine the study shows that they are being replaced by new synthetic drugs.

Compared to studies done four years back, the 2012 study shows that 73 new psychoactive substances were identified by EU member states through the body’s early warning system, whereas in 2009 only 24 were identified.

These new psychoactive substances that are recently being found are developed in a way to mimic the same effects experienced by controlled drugs.

Newly identified drugs

Even though some substances come and go quickly, others may establish and develop themselves on the illicit market. Study shows that at least once a week the EU early warning system received a report of a new substance during the current year. The fact that they are new to the market means that it will be hard for one to speculate on long-term health implications done by the use of these substances.

To avoid controls, the drugs are usually mislabeled, for example as ‘research chemicals’ or ‘plant food’ with a number of disclaimers stating that the product is not intended to be consumed. By January 2012 the EU had already identified 693 online shops that offered new psychoactive substances to all European customers.

A new proposal is being constructed by the European Commission to strengthen the EU’s response to new psychoactive substances.

One in four European adults used drugs

The EU study shows that around 85 million people have used illegal drugs at some point in their lives. With the highest report of use in cannabis (77 million), a decrease rate for cocaine users (14.5 million), amphetamines (12.7 million) and ecstasy (11.4 million).

The UK has ranked the highest in ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamine use while France and Denmark were ranked the most countries that consume the most cannabis.

One million seizures were reported of illicit drugs in Europe during the year of 2011, where most cases only small quantities were confiscated from users. The majority of the cases were from two countries, Spain and the UK. The drug that was most-seized in Europe is cannabis which makes up 41% of it marijuana and 36% hash. At second place one will find cocaine and crack at 10%.

Heroin seizures were at its lowest point in 2011 compared to the reports done in 2001. The most common synthetic stimulants used throughout Europe are amphetamine and ecstasy.

Being in a world run by technology, the internet is a particular challenge that one has to face when it comes to drug control, the report concluded.

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