Class A drug use among UK youth hits highest rate in more than 25 years, thanks to cheap cocaine
As cocaine prices drop to their lowest in more than 25 years, the number of UK youth who use Class A drugs not only continues to rise, but sits at the highest rate in more than 25 years.
The Crime Survey of England and Wales’ Home Office released statistics that indicated that 8.4 percent of 16 to 24 years olds used Class A substances during the 2017-2018 year. Seven percent reported interaction with Class A drugs from 2016-2017. The Home Office’s findings point to an upward trend in use each year: only 4.8 percent experimented with the substances from 2012-2013. The 2017-2018 proportion is also the highest since 20015-2006.
Six percent of Class A drug users tried powder cocaine, driving the use of the stimulant up another 4.8 percent in the previous year. Powder cocaine use from 2017-2018 reflected the highest figure since 2008-2009.
Much of the increased cocaine activity is due to declining cocaine prices, making the drug more easily affordable for UK youth as the prevalence of cell phones simplify the process of finding cocaine. The UN’s 2018 World Drug Report situated the street price of a gram of cocaine in the UK at $54 in 2016, as compared to $91 in 2007, and $128 in 1998.
“Our young people’s services have seen a significant rise in the use of Class A drugs,” Yasmin Batliwala, chair of London-based drug and alcohol treatment charity WDP, said. “The primary drug of choice has always been alcohol, as well as cannabis, but certainly in the last two or more years the use of Class A drugs has increased substantially,” Batliwala added.
Harry Shapiro of DrugWise emphasized the connection between lower cocaine prices and the cocaine using demographic: given the decreased costs, cocaine users “no longer had to be city boys with lots of money.” Shapiro also underscored the cell phone’s impact on broadspread use of the drug. “You’ve got a broader network of distribution making [cocaine] available in places where it wasn’t before, and they [youth] don’t have to hang around on street corners waiting for a bloke anymore. Some people have got their dealer on speed dial and it’s a bit lke home delivery of pizza. All of that allows for a more discreet, wider network of distribution.” Shapiro said.
One of the UK’s leading mental health, drug, and alcohol charities, Addaction decreased the age threshold of its services from 14 to 13 at its South Lanarkshire location in Scotland to accommodate the prevalence of child cocaine addiction in the area.
“[Cocaine is] cheap, plentiful, and easy to get,” Addaction charity worker Jacqueline Baker-Whyte said, “The ‘quality’ is usually poor and the side effects can be horrendous,” but as the Home Office’s data conveys, neither health risk nor the criminalization of cocaine are successfully quelling its use.
H/T: The Telegraph