UK Is Cocaine Capital Of Europe

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PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The UK has been named the cocaine capital of Europe again as a report warned of the dangers of a changing drugs market.

It is the second year running young Britons have taken more than neighbouring countries, with 4.8% estimated to have used it over the last year.

But cocaine use could fall as Europe sees the rapid emergence of synthetic drugs, often described as "legal highs", the EU's drug agency said.

A shift in the market represents a major battle for authorities over the next decade, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said.

Suppliers keep one step ahead by quickly offering new alternatives to banned products, the agency added.

"Today's report reveals a similar cat-and-mouse game in the area of precursors, the chemicals used to manufacture illicit drugs," it added.

The agency said the UK was echoing trends seen across the Atlantic in terms of cocaine use.

"Recent surveys of cocaine use reveal some positive signs in countries most affected," the agency said in its annual report.

"Denmark, Spain, Italy and the UK for example - four of the five countries with highest levels of use - report some decline in last-year cocaine use among young adults, echoing the trend observed in Canada and the United States."

Ecstasy and amphetamine use is stable or declining across Europe but new synthetic substances are "continually being developed", the report said.

Filed by Melanie Hick