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The number of deaths from drug consumption in Europe is increasing

The number of deaths from drug consumption in Europe is increasing

The number of drug deaths in the EU has increased, most of the cases are from 2022 in Germany. At the same time, more and more new drugs are appearing on the market. The EU talks about a "growing Opioid problem".

The consumption of illegal drugs in Europe is becoming an increasingly worrying problem. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in its report for 2024 speaks of a "growing threat. The EU estimates that in the member countries in 2022 there were at least 6,392 cases of death in the context of drug overdose. This corresponds to a death rate of 22.5 deaths per million inhabitants in the age group 15 to 64 years. Germany leads again with 1,631 documented cases. 83 percent were men. The number of drug-related deaths recorded in the EU has been increasing for years – and this figure is only a minimum estimate, because not all countries register deaths.

Consumption of illegal drugs

Most of the victims have taken Opioids, a heroin and mainly synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl or Nitazen, which is considered even more dangerous and has recently flooded Europe, although in the EU it is used less often than in North America. There Fentanyl has caused a health crisis. But even in Europe there are fatal traces of the Opioid drug: It is estimated that this was the cause of three-fourths of the reported overdose deaths in 2022 in the EU. Since 2009, according to EU Commissioner for Internal Policy Ylva Johansson, 81 new synthetic opioids have appeared on the European drug market.

2023 tons of cocaine confiscated

Another problem is that people in Europe are increasingly mixing different drugs, often without realizing it. "They get potentially lethal cocktails of different types of drugs," Johansson said. "Drug consumption is getting worse." However, cocaine, which is enjoying a comeback, is considered one of the most dangerous drugs: According to the EU, it is the cause of 20 percent of deaths. After cannabis, according to the EMCDDA, cocaine was the most consumed illegal drug in Europe in 2022. The problem with cocaine is that it is available in large quantities and for the sixth consecutive time in the EU, a record amount of cocaine was confiscated, in 2022 323 tons were confiscated.

What will the EU do?

The EU will strengthen the fight against the drug mafia, whose annual balance according to the latest report of Europol and the EMCDDA reaches 31 billion euros: The monitoring center at the beginning of July will function as an EU drug agency. This agency will have more powers and more room for action. Germany's federal drug commissioner Burkhard Blienert calls for further measures to reduce the demand for dangerous drugs. According to him, what is urgently needed is "large-scale and more effective prevention precisely in schools", he said. Where drugs are consumed, there are more offers for help and awareness work about the dangers of consuming drug mixtures./DW

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