A two-tier market in luxury and cut-price cocaine is developing in Britain, according to an annual survey by drug charities.
Feedback from 80 drug services, police forces and drug action teams in 20 towns and cities shows that the rapid expansion in the use of the drug is being fuelled by street dealers selling cheaper, low-grade cocaine to teenagers, pub users and those on low incomes to mix with other drugs.
This cut-price cocaine – at around £30 a gram – is reported to be available in virtually every part of Britain, while more affluent customers are being offered much higher quality cocaine at £50 a gram.
The DrugScope 2007 survey reports that in Birmingham individual dealers are offering their customers a choice of two grades of cocaine – “commercialised” at £30 a gram and “Peruvian” at £50 a gram. In Nottingham a higher-quality form of cocaine is known as “rocket fuel”.
Children as young as six have been treated for cannabis addiction in Manchester, a drugs expert has said.
Drug specialists also reported regularly seeing addicts aged eight and nine referred to them.
They said the children suffered from paranoia, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
One drugs worker said the youngest child he had dealt with was six – and that addiction was usually just one of a series of problems youngsters face.
The number of Britons prescribed antidepressants is at a record high, despite official warnings that many patients may not need them.
More than 31 million prescriptions were written by doctors for antidepressant drugs last year, figures published today reveal, with the use of drugs such as Seroxat and Prozac increasing by 10 per cent. The findings, which show a big increase on previous years, come despite growing concerns over the country’s excessive reliance on chemical treatments and over their possible side-effects.
The exact number of people taking pills for depression is not known but is thought to be several million, with many taking the medications over long periods on repeat prescriptions.
The most common drugs, known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – which include Seroxat and Prozac – are the easiest treatment to prescribe and are often effective. However, guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2004 recommended that they should not be used as a first-stop remedy for depression. They have also been found occasionally to trigger suicidal thoughts and self-harm in children and adults, and are not recommended for use by under18s.
THE Government’s war on drugs was branded a flop yesterday after shock figures were released.
A report revealed a third of people arrested for all crimes are on crack cocaine or heroin.
And it proves the link between hard drugs and soaring crime levels.
The cost of drugs to society has hit a record £13BILLION a year.
The Home Office survey shows new laws and expensive campaigns have failed to stop Britain having the highest level of addiction in Europe.
Drug and alcohol treatment courses for children have had their budgets slashed by the Government, a charity has claimed.DrugScope said a Government grant for schemes which treat young addicts and prevent others getting ensnared in abuse has suffered a 10% cut for 2007/08.
Spending in England will fall from £61.8 million to £55.2 million under the Young People’s Substance Misuse Grant, which is managed by the Home Office, the charity said.
It claimed the move contradicted Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pledge last week to concentrate on preventing addiction among children by increasing early intervention schemes.
DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said: “This is disastrous for local services, many working with vulnerable children and young people with drug and alcohol problems or at risk of becoming problem drug users.
The head of the national crime agency has said UK’s drugs strategy is “making no difference” and needs a radical new approach.
Sir Stephen Lander, the chairman of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) – described as Britain’s answer to the FBI – admitted that when it comes to the fight against drugs “we are not winning so we must try something else as well”.
The former head of MI5 said that the traditional law enforcement approach to drugs – seizure and imprisonment – has failed to reduce the availability of illegal substances, such as cocaine and heroin, in this country.
The total economic and social cost of Class A drug use in England and Wales is more than £15 billion a year, Home Office figures showed today.
According to its official study on problem drug use, the cost of each “problematic drug user” equates to more than £44,000 every year.
The Home Office statistics also show that the illegal drug market in England and Wales is worth more than £4.5 billion.
This figure rises to more than £5 billion for the UK as a whole.
The costs of drug-related crime, health service use, drug-related deaths and associated social care were all examined in the survey to provide an estimate of the total economic cost of Class A drug use.