Thursday, October 14, 2010

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Dr. Paul Griffith, gave a most fascinating talk at the 2010 International Society of Addiction Medicine, 12th Annual Conference, Milan, Italy. EMCCDA stood for European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and had put out a State of the Drug Problem in Europe, Annual Report, 2009. www.emcdda.europa lead to their website.
Dr. Griffith stated that the traditional drug situation was relatively stable however there'd been a lot of market innovation.
With regard to Cannabis it was interesting that there was a decline in younger age cohorts. More resin was being produced with higher potency and more crime associated with it. In the world, in comparison to Europe, Australia lead in terms of Cannibis use. The concern however was that daily users were mostly young males and the concern was how this was affecting their development across the board.
With regard to Cocaine, it was now the second most commonly consumed drug second to Cannibis. It was further a concern because there was increasing deaths associated with Cocaine. Cocaine use was at 5% compared to 3% in US, and less than 1% in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe methamphetamines had been major stimulant abuse but now there was a movement of methamphetamines west and cocaine use east. Age 15 to 34 was the age of greatest use.
Heroin was the principal reason for entering treatment, followed by cannabis and next cocaine. 1000 deaths in Europe were associated with cocaine and this figure was thought grossly underestimated. There was further an increased problem of cocaine complicating chronic opiate use.
Heroin use remained stable against a background of decreasing injection and increasing numbers in treatment. There was a dramatic increase in substitution treatment. This had impacted on the general use in society but was still lacking to a large extent in prison populations. HIV was declining in association with injection. There was an increased number of overdose deaths associated with the aging cohort of problem opioid use, polydrug use and other high risk behaviors such as alcohol abuse and increasing overdose in prison as a consequence of treatment interruption
Synthetic drugs were a major problem. Ecstasy use was stable or declining, the declining quantities of MDMA a result in restrictions on precursors. However there had been innovations in supply and already the precursors themselves were being chemically prepared. It was mostly a drug of the nightlife crowd.
Methamphetamine was a major problem with Europe as a major producer. Increasingly lots of small labs were producing them in countries such as Checkoslovakia and Lithuania. The Synthetics were a problem because the market was changing and synthetics were a 'moving target'. The EU had set up an Early Warning system following 'events' and "internet' putting out public health alerts. 24 new psychoactive substances were identified with 9 synthetic cannabinoids. Increasingly the designer drugs were not just illicit but illicit and licit. Suppliers were adapting fast to any new controls with 170 onlines shops selling "legal highs" as of 2010. SPICE of 2008 to 2009 was an example of this phenomena. Commonly substances were added to herbal mixtures.

The good news was that while drug use was still high in Europe, cannabis use was declining in the young and services for drug users were increasingly available and increasingly being diversified.

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