Trends in prevalence of cocaine use among young adults (aged 15–34) in EuropeThis year's annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reveals that the proportion of young Britons who take cocaine has overtaken that of Americans and that, after cannabis, cocaine is now the second most commonly used illicit drug. 4.9% of men and women aged between 15 and 34 used the drug in Britain last year and 6% of teenagers at or below school-leaving age have tried the drug, with many users also using other substances including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other stimulants.
Thus, although cannabis use in the UK has declined slightly (yet is still smoked by one in five people under 24), it has simply been replaced by a more fashionable and significantly more harmful alternative. The report's researchers warn that cocaine is a growing public health issue, its most common adverse effects including cardiovascular disorders, strokes, and seizures. Given that no effective medication exists to help cocaine users maintain abstinence or reduce use, more than ever we desperately need a new approach to the Government's failed drugs strategy.