In the EU, over 8,000 people, mainly young men in their 20s and 30s, die of a drugs overdose each year.
Estimates for the total number of drugs-related deaths are thought to be as much as three times higher due to under-reporting of deaths and deaths indirectly linked to drug use due to AIDS, violence, accidents and suicide, said the European Commission in a statement released Monday on the occasion of the UN's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
"The cornerstone of the EU's drugs strategy is a balanced approach between prevention, education and treatment on the one hand, and the vigorous enforcement of laws against drugs production and trafficking on the other," EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini told a press conference.
Between 3 and 3.5 million people in Europe have tried cocaine last year and 1.5 million are classified as regular users. 12 million people take cannabis, of whom 3 million take it on a more or less daily basis.
Anti-drug projects implemented by the EU in third countries amounted to over 500 millions euro in 2005, focusing on Afghanistan and Latin America, where support is given to alternative development projects to reduce coca production in the Andean region.
"International cooperation and shared responsibility are key principles of our policy," said EU Commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.