The European Monitoring Centre has just released its latest report on the most popular drugs in Europe. Cannabis holds the title of the most commonly available and used drug in Europe with around 80.5 million people having used at least once in their life.
In England and Wales, 22% of people have tried cannabis while in Scotland, 19% of Most of the people who use cannabis are young, between 15 and 24 years old.
In the past 10 years, cocaine has also become a major player in the European illicit drug scene. It is one of the most popular drugs and the most used stimulant on the continent. Cocaine is now the drug of choice for many Europeans with an estimated 15.5 million people trying it at least once in their lifetime.
The UK, Spain, Italy and Ireland all have above average cocaine usage and around 4 million people in Europe alone are estimated to have used cocaine in the past year.
Europe is also facing a huge influx of so called “legal highs”. These are not necessarily safer than illicit drugs but often there is no law against them because they are so new. This year alone there have been 57 new legal highs detected which works out to more than one new drug a week. The report blames the popularity of legal highs on the thriving internet marketplace which is dedicated to supplying the drugs.
Ecstasy is also extremely popular amongst Europeans. It is the second most popular drug with 13 million Europeans having tried it at some point in their life. In the last year alone, around 2 million people are estimated to have used ecstasy. The study also found a link between ecstasy use and dance clubs and the nightlife. It seems these drugs are especially popular among partygoers.
Out of these drugs, the greatest threat may be from the legal highs. While these drugs are not necessarily more dangerous than their illicit counterparts, their side effects are not known and medical health professionals may not have any training in the treatment of an overdose from a legal high. Worse still, there is no research on how the legal highs interact with other drugs. This could produce any number of unexpected side effects.