Britain tops European drug league as substance abuse deaths soar
By John Higginson 15th Nov 2011
Britain is the drug-taking capital of Europe and has seen a 20 per cent increase in deaths caused by substance abuse.
The country has the most young people taking cocaine and amphetamine and double the average number who are using ecstasy.
Drug deaths are three times the average in the EU, having risen to 49 out of every 1million people in 2006 to 59 out of every 1million in 2009, new figures show.
And there are now more British-based internet ‘headshops’ selling synthetic versions of drugs such as ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine than any other country in the world.
The figures, from the EU’s drug agency, paint a damning picture of a country grappling with worrying levels of drug abuse.
For example, more British 15- to 34-year-olds – nearly one in 20 –have taken cocaine in the past year than any other European country.
However, its use is being challenged by the rise of cheaper legal highs, many similar to meow-meow which was banned in Britain in 2009 following 25 deaths.
Agency director Wolfgang Gotz said it was trying to tackle a ‘fast moving and joined-up drug market which appears quick to adapt to both threats and opportunities’.
Former government drugs adviser Prof David Nutt said it was clear people were looking for ‘safer alternatives’ to Class A drugs, but he added: ‘We need proper research into these drugs. The old banning approach isn’t working.’
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Britain tops European drug league