London took the top spot for the highest cocaine usage for the second year in a row

UK city named as ‘cocaine capital of Europe’ for second year running –

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The UK is home to the city branded the ‘cocaine capital of Europe’ for the second year running, according to a new study.

While the use of the Class A substance grew among a small number of European cities, the UK still takes first stop for highest cocaine use.

The study carried out by the EU’s drug monitoring agency found London to have the highest cocaine usage, at 909mg per 1,000 last year – up from 737mg in 2016.

When weekend samples only are taken into account, the concentration for London rises to 1044, according to the figures.

London Skyline
London took the top spot for the highest cocaine usage for the second year in a row

Research also showed ecstasy is making a comeback as the drug of choice for youngsters as it shifts into “more mainstream” social settings.

Amsterdam came second for highest cocaine usage, where the level recorded was 642mg per 1,000.

The Europe-wide study analysed wastewater in more than 60 European cities and towns to gain an insight into drug use.

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In order to assess cocaine levels, experts examined samples for benzoylecgonine (BE) – the main substance produced when the body breaks down the drug.

Over five years there has been a “stable picture” of cocaine use around the continent, according to the study published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

It added: “Most cities show either a decreasing or a stable trend between 2011 and 2015, but in a few cases, in particular Brussels and London, an increase in BE loads was observed in this period.”

Lines of cocaine
The study found cocaine was the moment commonly used illicit drug in Europe

Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant drug in Europe, with an estimated 2.4 million young adults between 15 and 34 having taken the drug in the last year.

The UK is one of only three countries reporting prevalence of cocaine use among young adults of 3% or more, the EMCDDA said.

Meanwhile, experts highlighted evidence of a “resurgence” in the use of MDMA – commonly known as ecstasy – around Europe after a decline from peak levels seen in the early to mid 2000s.

Figures published last year for England and Wales showed a “statistically significant” rise in the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds reporting ecstasy use in the last year, up from 3.9% in 2013-14 to 5.4% in 2014-15.

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Europe-wide, 2.1 million young adults are estimated to have taken the drug in the previous 12 months.

In another report published on Tuesday, the EU agency said current indications suggest that in countries with higher prevalence the use of MDMA is “no longer a niche or subcultural drug”.

The Swiss Re Insurance building, also known as "the Gherkin", center, stands in the city of London
London was among a small number of cities where cocaine usage had increased in the last year

“It is not limited to dance clubs and parties, but is used by a wider range of young people in mainstream nightlife settings such as bars and house parties,” the study said.

The agency also warned reports indicate an increased availability of high-dose MDMA tablets, as well as in powder and crystal forms.

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EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel said: “The revival of MDMA brings with it the need to rethink existing prevention and harm-reduction responses to target and support a new population of users who may be using high-dose products, without fully understanding the risks involved.

Close-up of a drug user
More than 88 million Europeans are estimated to have tried illicit drugs

“Intoxications and even deaths associated with this drug are highlighted in our new report.

“This is particularly worrying since MDMA is moving into more mainstream social settings and is increasingly available via online markets.”

The report also raised concerns about a rise in overdose deaths, mainly related to heroin and other opioids, in some countries.

More than 88 million adults in Europe are estimated to have tried illicit drugs at some point in their lives.

UK city named as ‘cocaine capital of Europe’ for second year running –