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European cocaine supply exceeds pre-pandemic levels

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The European drug market has seen a ‘ rapid bounce back ’ of supply and use following the disruption caused by COVID 19 , according to EMCDDA ’ s European drug report 2022 , with cocaine availability now surpassing pre-pandemic levels . A record 213 tonnes of cocaine were seized in 2020 , says the document , and more than 23 laboratories dismantled .

The ever-evolving European market is still seeing NPS appearing at a rate of one per week , the report states , ‘ posing a public health challenge ’. Last year saw six new synthetic opioids , six synthetic cathinones and 15 synthetic cannabinoids reported for the first time , with the number of NPS being monitored by EMCDDA now close to 900 . The war in Ukraine has added to the volatility of the market , with potential shifts in trafficking routes as criminal gangs exploit vulnerabilities or avoid affected areas . ‘ Darkweb ’ drug markets now seem to be in decline , however , as a result of law enforcement crackdowns and frequent scams , with people turning instead to instant messaging apps and social media to buy and sell drugs . Drug treatment has largely returned to ‘ business as usual ’ after the pandemic ’ s restrictions , the report continues , although many services have retained some COVID-era innovations such as e-health provision . However , there is a need to scale up harm reduction services for people who inject drugs , with only four countries meeting WHO targets of providing 200 syringes per year per person and having 40 per cent of high-risk opioid users on substitute medication . There were an estimated 5,800 overdose deaths in the EU in 2020 , mostly associated with ‘ polydrug toxicity ’.
Meanwhile , global cocaine manufacture grew by more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2020 to more than 1,900 tons , according to UNODC ’ s World drug report 2022 . Cocaine trafficking also appears to be expanding to areas outside of the traditional markets of Europe and North America , say UNODC , with increased levels of trafficking to Africa and
Estimates of drug use in the European Union European Drug Report 2022 : Trends and Developments
Asia . Around 11.2m people were injecting drugs , the document says , around half of whom were living with hepatitis C , compared to 1.4m living with HIV – 1.2m were living with both . ‘ We need to devote the necessary resources and attention to addressing every aspect of the world drug problem , including the provision of evidence-based care to all who need it ,’ said UNODC executive director Ghada Waly .
European drug report 2022 at www . emcdda . europa . eu
World drug report 2022 at www . unodc . org
WALKING TALL This year ’ s Recovery Walk will be held in Newcastle on 17 September , starting at 12.30 . For more information or to sign up visit www . facesandvoicesofrecoveryuk . org / 2022-recovery-walk
NEW START WDP has launched a refurbished Cobbold Road hub at its New Beginnings service in Brent . The new site provides a ‘ welcoming environment that will encourage people to access the excellent treatment offer ’ from New Beginnings and clinical leads CNWL , said WDP ’ s executive director of services Tom Sackville .

More work needed to increase naloxone availability , says ACMD

MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE to increase the availability and use of naloxone , according to a report from ACMD . Community pharmacies should be able to deliver take-home naloxone as well as interventions in managing opioid overdose , says the document , while data quality also needs to be improved to allow commissioners to properly monitor how the drug is being provided .
The report cites examples of effective partnership working that it says should be used to model naloxone programmes across the UK , while prison services need to ensure people at high risk of overdose on release have easy access to the lifesaving drug . ‘ Evidence suggests that the supply of take-home naloxone on release from prison is fragmented across the UK , with only a small proportion of opioid-dependent prison leavers currently being provided with naloxone , even though studies find that a high percentage of these people would willingly accept take-home naloxone upon prison release ,’ it says .
Ambulance services , hospitals and mental health trusts should also deliver take-home naloxone to those at risk , it adds , with additional training provided for police . ACMD review of the UK naloxone implementation at www . gov . uk /
HIGH ACHIEVERS Greater Manchester ’ s Achieve Drug and Alcohol Service provides a collaborative and holistic approach that is ‘ overwhelmingly positive ’ and could be rolled out to other areas , according to an independent external report . ‘ Partnership working is at the very heart of our approach and it is fantastic to see it praised so highly ,’ said GMMH head of operations for addictions services Kate Hall .
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