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Taking new illicit drugs is like playing 'a dangerous game of roulette'

European Monitoring Centre says that 49 new drugs were discovered in the EU last year.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: RambergMediaImages via Creative Commons

NEW DRUGS WERE detected in the EU last year at the rate of around one a week – the highest number of new substances recorded by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in a single year.

In total, 49 new drugs were noted by the EMCDDA in 2011, up from the 41 noted in 2010 and 24 in 2009.

The organisation says that all of the new substances discovered last year were synthetic and that they fall into two main groups – synthetic cannabinoids (which mimic the effects of cannabis) and synthetic cathinones (which mimic cocaine).

EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz says that people who use these new drugs are playing roulette with their lives:

We now see new drugs marketed in attractive packages on the Internet or sold in nightclubs and on street corners. Whatever the source, the simple fact is that a dangerous game of roulette is being played by those who consume an ever-growing variety of powders, pills and mixtures, without accurate knowledge of what substances they contain and the potential health risks they may pose.

The joint EMCDDA-Europol 2011 annual report describes the introduction of new drugs as “a global phenomenon which is developing at an unprecedented pace.”

“The speed at which new drugs appear on the market challenges established procedures for monitoring, responding to, and controlling the use of new psychoactive substances,” it says.

Europol director Rob Wainwright expressed his concern over the availability of drugs online:

The selling of illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances is yet another area where the Internet is abused by organised criminals. We must ensure that law enforcement agencies have the modern operational and legislative tools to combat such cases effectively.

Late last year the European Commission announced it would propose stronger anti-drugs policies to combat illicit drug use “particularly new psychoactive substances which imitate the effects of dangerous drugs like ecstasy or cocaine”.

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