Randox Toxicology: Highest Percentage of Class A Drug Use in over a Decade

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Figures released by the Home Office from the Crime Survey of England and Wales for 2017/2018 showed an 8.4 percent rise in 16-24 year olds using Class A drugs in the last year, compared to 7 percent in 2016/2017. As drugs are becoming more readily available due to the Dark Web, mobile phones and drug gangs, a broader network of distribution has been established and the price of cocaine has fallen.

Cocaine is a strong stimulant that comes in a powder (known as coke), freebase or crack form. With short lived effects, cocaine temporarily speeds up the mind and body. Freebase is a powder cocaine that has been prepared for smoking, whilst crack cocaine comes in a rock form. As both forms of cocaine can be smoked, they reach the brain quicker and have a stronger effect than powder cocaine. Injecting any form of the drug has serious risks including, damaged veins and the spread of blood-borne viruses, such as HIV and Hepatitis C. High doses of cocaine can cause the body temperature to rise, resulting in convulsions, a heart attack and heart failure.

The Telegraph recently reported that the fall in cocaine prices has now led to the highest number of young people using Class A drugs in over a decade, a rise from 4.8 percent in 2012/2013. The United Nation’s 2018 World Drug Report states that the street price for a gram of cocaine in the UK in 2016 was £41, the cheapest figure documented at the time since 1990. Compare this to cocaine prices in 2007 when it was £69 per gram.

“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 commented on the issue, “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.” When cocaine and alcohol have been mixed it can cause particularly dangerous side effects and produce a toxic chemical called cocaethylene.

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