Cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world. The most recent statistics show that international seizures of cocaine have continued to increase and now total 756 metric tons, with the largest quantities of the drug intercepted in South America, followed by North America.
According to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine is also the second most commonly used illegal drug in Europe. Among young people (15 to 34 years), an estimated 7.5 million have used cocaine at least once in their life, 3.5 million in the last year and 1.5 million in the past month.
In the UK, a 2007 survey found that one percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 25 had used cocaine in the past year. According to Home Office figures, use of cocaine has more than doubled among 16- to 24-year-olds since 2000, and Britain remains one of the countries with the highest level of cocaine abuse, along with Spain and Italy.
In the United States, cocaine continues to be the most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network by hospital emergency departments. There were 448,481 emergency department visits involving cocaine reported in 2005.
The number of drug users in Britain admitted to hospitals with cocaine overdoses in 2007 (740 users) was more than four time higher than it was eight years earlier (161 users).
“My friend was on drugs for four years, three of which were on hard drugs such as cocaine, LSD, morphine and many antidepressants and painkillers. Actually anything he could get his hands on. He complained all the time of terrible pains in his body and he just got worse and worse till he finally went to see a doctor.
“The doctor told him that there was nothing that could be done for him and that due to the deterioration of his body, he would not live much longer. Within days—he was dead.”