Although cannabis remains the most widely used illegal drug in Europe, a recent report indicates an increase in the availability of cocaine in the EU.
Over 104,000 cocaine seizures were reported in the EU in 2017 (98,000 in 2016), amounting to 140.4 tons. This is double the quantity seized in 2016 (70.9 tons).
Alexis Goosdeel, the director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), said there has not been a noticeable health impact yet.
"The purity of cocaine is at its highest level over the last decade, so we see an impressive amount of cocaine being seized," Goosdeel said. "What we don't see luckily yet is huge impact in terms of health problems. There are indications already in EU states that there are some treatments associated with cocaine. What is a part of growing concern is the apparition in the use of crack cocaine."
According to EMCDDA, the highest number of cocaine seizures is over 42,000 in Spain, followed by the UK, France and Italy. However, Belgium accounted for the highest proportion of cocaine seizures.
The report also looked into the role of digitalization in the drug market. It found evidence that social media, encryption techniques and darknet marketplaces played a role in the increase.
However, digital platforms could be preventative. Developments in technology could "help patients to develop resilience to drug cues or reduce cravings."
As for synthetic drugs, their production is "growing, diversifying and becoming more innovative," with the EMCDDA estimating that 6.6 million ecstasy tablets were produced in 2017.
You can find a link to the full EMCDDA report here.