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Rising Drug Consumption Amongst Middle-Aged

Cocaine-Use

There is an alarming amount of middle aged people in the UK taking cocaine; a drug no longer 'the preserve of wealthy bankers and celebrities', reveals new Government report.

Cocaine use in the UK has nearly trebled within the last 20 years. The drug has spread throughout all areas of society since the mid 1990’s, said the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, with many of the consumers in their forties and fifties. The drug is now 'firmly embedded in UK society'.

Once seen as a drug for young people the percentage of over 35’s taking cocaine at least once in their lives has increased from 0.8% in 2001-2002 to 1.5% in 2013-2014, that’s around 188,000 people, and use amongst the ‘comfortably off’ rose from 1.5% to 1.9%.

'It is notable that there have been statistically significant increases (1996 to 2013-14) across all age groups up to the age of 54 years; a phenomenon that has not been observed in respect of other drug types.' The report said.

0.6% of 16-59 year olds took powdered cocaine in 1996 compared to a peak of 3% (around 885,000 people) in 2008-2009, shows data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

In 2014 just over 810,000 men and women aged 16 to 59 in England and Wales used the drug at least once, representing 2.4% of the population and the highest rate seen in Europe.

The rise in the number of middle aged people using the drug is ‘highly likely’ to be down to price; cheap, low purity powdered cocaine is now sold alongside expensive, higher purity cocaine, meaning that people from ‘hard pressed’ backgrounds are able to access the drug as well as the ‘comfortable off’.

'Consumption of powdered cocaine in the United Kingdom has changed radically over the last two decades’ said Professor Les Iversen, chair of the independent body ACMD which advises the government.

'Once characterised as the preserve of wealthy bankers and celebrities, the research highlighted in this report shows a cheaper, low-purity version of the drug has permeated society far more widely.

'Given the clear health risks associated with even infrequent cocaine use, and associated issues such as dependency and crime, this development has posed a huge challenge to health professionals, law enforcement, educators and academics.' He added.

The side effects of using cocaine on a one off or regular basis can include strokes, heart attacks and psychiatric conditions. The low purity cocaine is often mixed with cutting agents such as levamisole, used to worm sheep, which can cause low blood cell numbers and phenacetin which can cause kidney conditions.

The department 'continues to be concerned about the harms caused by cocaine use, which is why it is a Class A drug' said a Home Office spokesman.

'There are positive signs our approach to this drug is working: the use of powder cocaine has fallen since a peak in 2008/2009 and there is a long-term downward trend in overall drug use

'Law enforcement continues to tackle the supply of cocaine at home and abroad and the Coalition Government has introduced new powers to combat the trade in cutting agents, which are mixed with drugs by criminals to boost their profits.

'We are grateful to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for its review and recommendations on the use, prevalence and harms associated with powder cocaine. We will consider its advice carefully and respond in due course.' They said.

Source: Daily Mail

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