Drug use changing in Europe amid rising unemployment: report


A TV cameraman records the three-tons cocaine seizure on February 3, 2006 in Braga, northern Portugal. Many nations thinking about decriminalizing drugs may look to Portugal as an example.


Miguel Riopa

The European Union’s drug agency warned Tuesday that unemployment across Europe could add to the bloc's drug problems, noting that while traditional drug use has fallen there, Europeans are finding more creative ways to get high. 

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is now monitoring a total of 73 new psychoactive drugs in Europe, an increase from the 24 identified in 2009, the Guardian reported.

Europe's drug market is being revolutionized by the internet and the growing availability of new synthetic materials, making for "an ever more complex stimulant market," as European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom put it.

She was likely referring to items often sold as "legal highs" in the form of "plant food" or "research chemicals," the Guardian explained.

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Over 280 such substances are being monitored by the agency, with many surfacing only in the past couple of years, proliferating at a rate of about one per week.

These developments, combined with Europe's stagnating economy, increasingly jobless youth, and budget cuts, have officials concerned. This puts the situation in perspective: 


Malmström said she was "concerned that a quarter of European adults — or 85 million people — have used an illicit drug and that, by historical standards, drug use in Europe remains high."

That said, the report praised record levels of treatment and found a drop in heroin as well as cocaine use.

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