Cocaine use soars among young

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The Independent Online

Cocaine use is more prevalent in Britain than in almost any other EU country - particularly among the young.

A report yesterday found that cocaine use had increased more than four-fold among 15 to 24-year-olds in the past 12 years.

In England and Wales, almost 5 per cent of young people have taken the drug in the last year. Use of the drug has tripled among adults. Cocaine is now Europe's second most popular illegal drug, after cannabis.

Ecstasy use has fallen, and although many more people smoke cannabis, its use has stabilised compared with cocaine.

The study, by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drugs Addiction, looks at drug problems in the 25 EU member states as well as Norway, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

It estimates about 10 million Europeans have used cocaine and about 3.5 million are likely to have used it in the last year. About 1.5 million Europeans (0. 5 per cent of adults) said they have taken cocaine in the last month.

Between 1985 and 2004, there were 54,117 deaths relating to drug misuse in the UK, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics contained in the report. Drug deaths in the UK peaked in the year 2000 when 3,517 people died, but have since been steadily declining.