New synthetic psychoactive substances are making their way into Europe where the Internet is becoming a big challenge in the fight against illicit drugs, the continent’s drug agency warned Tuesday.
Drug use in Europe remains high even though the consumption of cannabis and cocaine appears to be slowing, as is new heroin use, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said in its annual report.
The centre said more chemical or natural substances were emerging on the market, with 73 new psychoactive substances detected in 2012 — compared to just 49 in 2011 — many of them close to cannabis due to high demand.
Mephedrone, a party drug often called “meow meow” described as a mix between amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy, is an example of a new drug that has become a sought-after substance on the illicit stimulant market.
Altogether, around a quarter of Europe’s adult population has used an illicit drug at some point in their lives.
And while the practice of injecting drugs is slowing, the report says figures show the long-term decline in the number of new HIV diagnoses in Europe could be interrupted as a result of outbreaks among drug users in Greece and Romania.
The report however welcomed that a record number of people — an estimated 1.2 million — had received treatment for illicit drug use in Europe during 2011.