Cocaine use ‘permeating society’

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The use of cocaine in the UK has more than tripled in two decades and is no longer “the preserve of wealthy bankers and celebrities”, a report has found.

The Government’s advisory council on the misuse of drugs said the substance has spread throughout society since the mid-1990s following the emergence of a market in cheap, low-purity powered cocaine alongside a more expensive and far higher purity version.

Addressed to Home Secretary Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, today’s report highlights the significant harm that cocaine can cause to even first-time or occasional users.

Powdered cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal drug in the UK and in London a quarter of criminal gangs are linked to the cocaine trade.

Professor Les Iversen, chair of the ACMD, said: “Consumption of powdered cocaine in the United Kingdom has changed radically over the last two decades.

“Once characterised as the preserve of wealthy bankers and celebrities, the research highlighted in this report shows a cheaper, low-purity version of the drug has permeated society far more widely.

“Given the clear health risks associated with even infrequent cocaine use, and associated issues such as dependency and crime, this development has posed a huge challenge to health professionals, law enforcement, educators and academics.”

The report said 0.6% of 16-59 year-olds took powdered cocaine in 1996, compared to a peak of 3% – or 885,000 people – in 2008/2009.

However, there since appears to be a general downward trend since then with 743,000 using the drug in 2013/2014, the report said.

The report was carried out in response to concerns around the increasing prevalence of the drug and the perception that it is safe.

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by The News Editor

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