The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued today their regular annual European Drug Report. The Report provides a comprehensive analysis of recent drug use and market trends across the European Union (EU), Norway and Turkey.
The 2019 report highlights in particular an increase in cocaine availability with seizures at a record high, amounting to 140.4 tonnes, double the quantity seized in 2016 (70.9 tonnes). Although the retail price of cocaine remained stable, its purity at street level reached its highest level in a decade in 2017.
The report notes the “Uberization” of the cocaine trade, where users and dealers use smartphones, messaging apps and satellite navigation to obtain the drug. Enterprising criminals have set up “cocaine call centres” across Europe to provide fast and flexible delivery services.
Heroin is still the most common illicit opioid on the drug market in Europe and is a major contributor to drug-related health and social costs. The quantity of heroin seized in the EU increased by over a tonne in 2017 to 5.4 tonnes, with an additional 17.4 tonnes seized by Turkey (some of which would have been destined for the EU market). Laboratories producing heroin from morphine using this precursor have been discovered in recent years in EU countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands). Heroin purity remains high and the retail price relatively low.
Belgium has overtaken Spain as the hub of the fast-growing European drug market. Belgium is playing an enlarged role in both the distribution and production markets of cocaine, methamphetamines and other illicit drugs, such as ketamine and GBL. The report also shows that Belgium, together with the Netherlands, is one of the main production centres for MDMA.
The Report also explores the challenges associated with new synthetic opioids, the latest developments in the cannabis market and synthetic drug production in Europe. Production of synthetic drugs appears to be ‘growing, diversifying an The purity of methamphetamine and amphetamine is higher than a decade ago, with 0.7 tonnes of methamphetamine and 6.4 tonnes of amphetamine seized in the EU in 2017. d becoming more innovative’ with methamphetamine posing the “greatest challenge”.
Legal recreational cannabis markets in some countries outside the EU were leading to “innovative” new products that presented difficulties for detection and control when entering the continent. The report points to fentanyl as a problem drug in Estonia, buprenorphine in Finland and the Czech Republic and methadone in Germany and Denmark. 11 new synthetic opioids were detected in 2018, including six new fentanyl derivatives. Since 2009, there have been 34 fentanyl derivatives detected in Europe, the EU agency says.
One in five people entering drug treatment facilities for an opioid-related problem “now reports a synthetic opioid, rather than heroin, as their main problem drug; and these drugs are becoming more commonly detected in drug overdose cases”. Around 8.200 people died of an overdose in Europe in 2018, according to the Report, around 300 more than in 2017. Most of the overdoses were not due to cocaine or other drugs, but rather opioids (heroin-induced), which made up 78% of all deaths. Researchers say the number of deaths could be 20% to 30% higher due to potential underreporting by member states. The spread of HIV has decreased by 40% over the past decade.
Providing people who inject heroin, or other drugs, with greater access to prevention, testing and treatment for HBV and HCV is central to combating viral hepatitis as a public health threat in line with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as they are the people with the highest burden of disease and at highest risk of transmission.
Mobile health applications are increasingly used in prevention, treatment and harm reduction.
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You can get the highlights of the report from the video bellow.