More Europeans use cocaine

Whether it's to numb the nightmare of prostitution, cope with work pressure or simply to party, cocaine use in Europe has risen alarmingly and more people are seeking treatment for abuse, according to a recent report.

An estimated 4.5 million Europeans are likely to have used cocaine in the last year - up from 3.5 million a year ago - while seizures of the drug have soared by almost half over 12 months.

Almost a quarter of demands for treatment among Europeans who use illicit drugs do so for problems caused by the white powder.

Four hundred cocaine-related deaths were recorded in 2005.

"The new data confirms cocaine's place as Europe's stimulant drug of choice and as its second most commonly used illicit drug after cannabis," the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said.

12 million Europeans have tried cocaine
Its "2007 annual report on the state of the drugs problem in Europe" notes that some 12 million Europeans - four percent of all adults - are thought to have tried cocaine. About two million have used it in the last month.

One of them was Vincent, a 32-year-old salesman at a luxury car yard in Paris, who said he feels "reassured, euphoric, brilliant", after his morning "sniff", which he takes to deal with the pressure of rising sales targets.

"I'm not a golden boy and my wife doesn't know about it," he told AFP, noting that he "struggles" financially even though the price of cocaine has dropped from around 120 euros to 60 euros (89-178 dollars) for a gram.

Prime indicators of the impact of cocaine are the demand for health treatment and seizures of the drug, said the report based on figures in the 27 European Union nations plus Norway and Turkey.

Twenty-two percent of demands for new treatment in Europe were cocaine-related, the report, close to three times the figure for 1999, with Spain and the Netherlands the countries were most people sought help.

Drug seizures on the rise
Drug seizures were up significantly in Spain and Portugal, while criminal offences related to its use and traffic rose in all EU countries except Germany.

In all, around 107 tons entered Europe in 2005, 45 percent higher than the previous year, to be sniffed in powder form, converted to crack cocaine, or mixed with heroin and injected as potentially-lethal "speedballs".

Data used in the survey show that the highest rates of cocaine use among young adults were in Spain and Britain - although this only rose slightly from previous figures.

The biggest increases in this group (ages 15-34) use were reported in Denmark and Italy.– (Sapa)

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