The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA, launched today the 20th European Drug Report.
Changing dynamics in the heroin market, the latest implications of cannabis use and new features and dimensions of the stimulant and ‘new drugs’ scene, are among the issues highlighted in the document. While cannabis remains the most widely consumed illicit drug in Europe, the reports shows an overall stagnation in demand for heroin. The Internet started playing a growing role in supplying and marketing drugs to Europeans, with new and established drugs both offered for sale online.
Present at the launch in Lisbon, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: ‘The report shows that we are confronted with a rapidly changing, globalised drug market and, therefore, we need to be united, swift and determined in our response to the drugs threat. I am particularly concerned that the Internet is increasingly becoming a new source of supply, for both controlled and uncontrolled psychoactive substances’.
Problems relating to heroin still account for a large share of the drug-related health and social costs in Europe, but recent trends in this area have been relatively positive. Fewer people are now entering specialised drug treatment for the first time for heroin problems: 23 000 in 2013 compared to 59 000 in 2007.
A key finding in this year’s report is also the marked rise in the potency and purity of Europe’s most commonly used illicit drugs. This fuels concerns for the health of users who, wittingly or unwittingly, may be consuming stronger products.
New psychoactive substances (NPS or ‘new drugs’, often sold as ‘legal highs’) were detected in the EU last year at the rate of around two per week. A total of 101 new substances were reported to the EWS in 2014 (up from 81 substances in 2013), continuing an upward trend in substances notified in a single year.