New trends in drug use

The European Observatory on Drug Use, based in Lisbon, has produced data which indicates a change in trends of drug use. The main drugs in use in the European Union are hashish, the widest used, followed by synthetic drugs, then cocaine and finally, heroin. Young users are turning more and more to the family of synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy, LSD (known also as acid) and amphetamines (speed). The degraded image of heroin due to the visual aspect of heroin users is turning people away from this drug, the user rate of which is now stabilised. This means that the same number of people are consuming heroin and with less new users, the incidence of heroin addiction and its dramatic social consequences should reduce in future. In Europe, cocaine is still regarded as the high-class drug, the party drug, sniffed by the social elite, as opposed to the crack cocaine smoking in North and South America, which has a more serious social impact. The real effects of prolonged cocaine taking begin to appear when the consumer reaches middle age, without teeth and with serious psychiatric problems. Up to one third of all teenagers in the EU claim to have consumed hashish at least once, this continuing to be the drug most widely used, due to the fact that it is not physically addictive and does not cause harmful effects upon society or the individual per se.

Regarding the synthetic drugs, young people are turning more and more to these at parties (or raves). These drugs are considered as recreational drugs, to be consumed on Friday or Saturday nights. Some synthetic drugs are even programmed to last all weekend, so the consumer pops the pill on Friday night and comes down only on Sunday afternoon, so that he can go back to work normally on Monday morning. For how long, one wonders. Vast quantities of synthetic drugs are produced in the Netherlands, whereas hashish comes mainly from North Africa, heroin mainly from Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos or Cambodia and cocaine from Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Equador, Peru and Brazil.

The police strategy now is use is for Public Security police to target the pushers (small traffickers) and the Detective forces and Secret Services to combat the traffickers (large-scale operations). Turkish drugs networks have been under surveillance for some time and these are being dismantled, while Cape Verde under observation due to its use as a port for cocaine travelling to Europe from South America. To prevent consumption, the best weapon is education. A society which produces young people who need to take a drug to have sex or to dance would appear to be sick.


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