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The European Union’s drug agency, EMCDDA, released its annual report highlighting the pervasive influence of drug use on various aspects of European life. With drug use observed “almost everywhere in our society,” the report emphasizes the wide-ranging effects on individuals and the challenges associated with tackling the complex issue.
Growing Complexity in Drug Availability
The EMCDDA report indicates that the availability of illicit substances remains persistently high and continues to expand with the discovery of new drugs. This escalating complexity poses significant difficulties in addressing the problem effectively.
According to Alexis Goosdeel, the director of EMCDDA, the report confirms the alarming trend observed in recent years: “We never had so many drugs being smuggled through Europe or produced in Europe.” He further highlights that addictive behaviors and drug-related violence now affect a broader spectrum of individuals and communities.
Cannabis and Cocaine Dominating the European Drug Landscape
Cannabis continues to be the most widely used illicit substance in Europe, according to the European substance Report 2023, which covers 2021. However, as its forms and patterns of usage change and rules vary among EU member states, controlling its use has grown more difficult. 816 tonnes of cannabis resin and 256 tonnes of herbal cannabis were confiscated by EU officials in 2021, which is a decade-high amount.
The study also highlights Europe’s historically high cocaine availability, noting that 303 tonnes of the substance were seized by EU officials, a record-breaking amount. Although the exact figures are likely underreported, cocaine is thought to play a factor in about one-fifth of overdose deaths in 2021.
The Connection Between Drug Trade, Violence, and Corruption
The report highlights the escalating levels of violence and corruption associated with the drug trade. This poses a threat to European security and stability. The director of the EMCDDA emphasizes that corruption extends beyond drug-related activities, serving as a significant risk to democracy and the rule of law. Organized criminal groups exploit corruption, particularly in cocaine trafficking, with far-reaching consequences that have often been underestimated.
Addressing the Complexities of Europe’s Drug Problem
The EMCDDA report underscores the ongoing discovery of new and potent substances, complicating Europe’s drug problem. Alex Goosdeel warns against underestimating the issue, emphasizing the need for heightened awareness and preparedness. The multifaceted nature of drug use requires comprehensive strategies to effectively tackle the challenges it poses.