Inexcess: In search of recovery

Help and support for people and families
dealing with drug and alcohol problems


Alcohol and drugs in the news

Surge in cocaine use prompts review

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 Surge in cocaine use prompts review

Medical advisers are to launch a review into the effects of cocaine after figures revealed a significant jump in the numbers of young people using the drug.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said use of the ”very harmful” drug had increased five-fold among 16 to 59-year-olds during the past 12 years and the purity of street samples had decreased.

Usage among those aged 16 to 59 also jumped from 0.6 per cent to 3 per cent during the same period.

Writing to the Home Secretary, the council’s chairman Professor Les Iversen said he hoped his review would ”counteract the increasingly common misapprehension that cocaine is a relatively safe drug”.

His letter quotes the latest British Crime Survey statistics which suggest 6.6 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds use cocaine, in comparison with 1.3 per cent in 1996.

Use among those aged 16 to 59 increased from 0.6 per cent to 3 per cent during the same period.

“Cocaine is a very harmful drug to individuals and more broadly society, and evidence of the continued increasing prevalence of cocaine use is deeply concerning,” Professor Iversen wrote.

The average purity of seized cocaine had been steadily falling to 15.5 per cent between April and June 2009, he said.

This had “possible implications for harms to users due to an increase in the volume of cutting agents which may be present in a sample”.

Prof Iversen - whose predecessor Professor David Nutt was sacked last year for criticising government drug policy - said that he did not expect the report to result in a call for a change in the classification of cocaine’s existing Class A status.

The figures have been released just a day after the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse published its own research which suggested that some 3,000 people aged 18 to 24 sought treatment for cocaine addiction last year - a third of all those in England.

The advisory council’s cocaine review is expected to take about a year and will begin after it reports on “legal highs” such as mephedrone, which have also been causing increasing concern.

Share This Page:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • TwitThis