European drug use annual report

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  • Published: May 28, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman / Base Peak / Atomic / Infrared Spectroscopy / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / Proteomics / X-ray Spectrometry / Chemometrics & Informatics / MRI Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: European drug use annual report

It was in 2005 when the first reports emerged that you could estimate illegal drug use in a particular catchment area by measuring the levels in rivers using mass spectrometry, illustrated by the occurrence of cocaine in the River Po in Italy. Since then, there have been many similar reports and the method has gained some degree of acceptance among various organisations, including the EU European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon. It has just published its annual report on drug use throughout Europe based on wastewater analysis in 42 cities.

Entitled European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments, it explains how use of the more established drugs is relatively stable but there is rapid growth in the use of synthetic drugs, including medicinal products, stimulants and psychoactive substances. As the report states “In 2013, 81 new psychoactive substances were notified to the EU Early Warning System, bringing the number of substances monitored to more than 350.” They included 29 synthetic cannabinoids and 7 synthetic cathinones.

The report made headlines in the UK because London remains the “cocaine capital of Europe.” While this is true based on these figures, the actual use of cocaine in London and many other countries studied is falling, and has been doing so since 2008 in the UK. Similarly, the use of heroin throughout Europe is in decline, the main drugs abused being cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.

National differences in illicit drug preference were also apparent. For instance, people in Eastern Europe use crystal meth more than those in Western Europe, where cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis prevail. Amphetamine use is fairly level throughout Europe but that of methamphetamine is spreading.

As well as looking at the trends in drug use, based on wastewater analysis, the report also analyses drug supply, seizures, national treatment programs and drug policies.

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