[European Parliament Press Release
06 Nov 2008
Every year 7,000-8,000 people in the EU die because of drug use and a drugs overdose remains one of the main causes of death among young people. These are some of the findings of a report by the Europe’s drug monitoring agency, released to Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee Wednesday.
Cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and LSD are the most commonly used drugs across Europe, the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said in its annual report.
It estimates 4 million Europeans use cannabis daily, or almost daily, while 12 million people have used cocaine at least once. In comparison 11 million Europeans have taken amphetamines and 9.5 million ecstasy.
New drugs gaining popularity
Newer drugs like BZP, GHP and Ketamine are fast emerging as drugs of choice. Another emerging drug is Fentanyl, which according to the report “is considerably more potent than heroin and its use can be particularly risky”.
Drugs in Europe
* € 60 – cost to every European of drug problem
* 36% rise in drug offences between 2001-2006
* 2/3 of cocaine seized in Europe is in the transit countries of Portugal and Spain
Unveiling the report, director of the centre Wolfgang Götz told MEPs, “although drug use levels remain historically high, we appear to be entering a more stable phase”.
“Every hour, one of our citizens’ dies”
However, he quashed any cause for optimism by telling MEPs that “every hour, one of our citizens’ dies of drug consumption”. Responding to a question from Spanish Socialist Bárbara Dührkop Dührkop about why drug prevention is not on school agendas, Mr Götz said, “there is little evidence that it helps and works”.
The agency believes identifying vulnerable groups such as early school leavers, children in care and homeless young people could be the best way forward and says targeting these groups could play a vital role in responses to drug use.
Italian Liberal Marco Cappato said that “saving people has to be in the driving seat”.
The Chair of the monitoring centre Marcel Reimen explained, “Today’s picture of a divided market suggests that, rather than focus on individual substances, we must adopt a holistic approach to stimulants.” He added, “There is a potential risk that gains made in reducing the availability of drugs could simply result in consumers switching to another.”
Heroin affects the young
Data indicates the number of heroin users is rising, with 40% of those using needles in countries like Estonia, Lithuania, Austria and Romania under 25. Thanks in part to needle sharing, HIV infections are increasing by 3,000 a year and 40% of those injecting are infected with Hepatitis C.
Treatment for opiate abuse still accounts for 80% of all drug treatments. “We need to involve Afghanistan, the biggest opium producer in the world” said Giusto Catania of the GUE/NGL group.
Parliament passed a resolution in July expressing “deep concern about the ever-expanding cultivation and trafficking of opium, which has serious political and national security implications in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries”.Republish