U.K. Cocaine Deaths Up as Prices Come Down

Cocaine’s falling cost, combined with a belief that the drug is safe, has led to a significant increase in the number of cocaine deaths among young British professionals, the Observer reported May 23.

According to government statistics, 87 young people died from cocaine-related deaths in the first six months of 2003, double the number for the same period in 2002.

Figures also show that more than 640,000 people used cocaine last year, triple the number in 1997.

Dr. Fabrizio Schifano, an addiction researcher at St George’s medical school in Tooting, England, said that low prices, ease of availability, and the growing popularity of cocktails of several drugs are contributing to the death rate.

He said that more wealthy young professionals are using cocaine as a recreational drug. “People who use drugs after a hard week at work don’t consider themselves addicts. They may take a combination of stimulants, which is more often implicated in fatalities. But these drugs can also kill on their own,” said Schifano.