Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The shocking rise of Britain's cocaine use

Channel 4 News

More people in Britain have tried cocaine than anywhere else in the world, the United Nations drug agency has claimed.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has also said it was concerned about rocketing use of methamphetamine, or crystal meth.

The recreational drug, also known as Ice and Tina, is regarded as the number one problem drug in North America - and it is on the rise in Britain.

The Board called on governments across the world to introduce tougher restrictions on chemicals used in the manufacture of the drug.

London-based INCB president, Professor Hamid Ghodse, also raised concerns over recent figures which showed Britons were the highest users of cocaine, and also big users of cannabis.

A report published last November found 6.8 per cent of UK adults admitted they had tried cocaine, compared with 4.9 per cent of Spaniards, the second-largest proportion.

Professor Hamid Ghodse said: "If I want to pick on one major drug problem pandemic today, it is methamphetamine.

"It has not yet affected that much of Western European countries and the UK but, as we know, as drug misuse occurs in North America sooner or later it gets here.

"Methamphetamine is today's problem drug. We think that it is extremely worrying."

He added: "We are trying to encourage governments to focus on the precursor chemicals used in the drug's manufacture, so that we can try to prevent any wider abuse of methamphetamine."

In November, Home Secretary Charles Clarke ordered an early warning system to be put in place to see if the use of crystal meth was spreading.

He ordered that drug deaths should be monitored to see if they were linked with the drug.


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