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Drugs report: "Plethora of powders & pills"

15 November 2012

One new drug per week is reported in the EU. Photo: DeaVanesium/Flickr (CC)

How are countries tackling the new drugs phenomenon? Are school children consuming drugs more or less than before? In its annual report, EU drugs agency EMCDDA puts the drug situation in Europe under the spotlight. EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström participated in the launch of the report in Lisbon.

The report shows that while cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines continue to be the main players on the stimulant scene, they are now competing with a growing number of emerging synthetic drugs. New drugs are reported in the EU at the rate of around one per week.

"I am particularly struck by the speed of developments we are now seeing in the area of synthetic drugs. I think it is clear to all that strong and coordinated actions are required if we are to respond effectively in this area", Cecilia Malmström said in a comment.

A total of 49 new psychoactive substances were reported in 2011, the largest number ever reported in a single year. Preliminary data for 2012 show no signs of a decline, with over 50 already detected. The report also describes how users may often be unaware of what they are actually purchasing. Malmström added:

"More than ever before, young people are exposed to a plethora of powders and pills. Data from emergency rooms, toxicology reports and drug treatment centres indicate that the associated risks are not always well known by the users."

While some countries report a rising consumption of cocaine, recent surveys reveal some positive signs in high-prevalence countries. While cocaine use remains a major part of the stimulant drug problem, today’s data confirm that its popularity and image as a ‘high-status drug’ may be declining.

In her speech at the launch of the report, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström also commented on the situation of heroin use in Europe:

"The report highlights a decline in heroin use in the EU, with fewer people entering specialist drug treatment for heroin problems and a small decrease of heroin-induced deaths. These figures, together with market indicators suggesting that heroin is becoming less available on the streets of Europe, may lead us to think that heroin is playing a less central role in Europe's drug problems."

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Read the full report , the press release and Cecilia Malmström's speech at the launch in Lisbon.