The use and abuse of illegal drugs is a huge problem around the world, even if stricter and stronger drug abuse policies are being practiced. This rings especially true in the United Kingdom, where a recent report released by St George's University of London revealed that drug-related deaths have risen by as much as 11.8 percent in the United Kingdom. The report, which gathered information from experts in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Scotland, showed that 1,952 deaths were reported in 2008. This rose to 2,182 deaths in 2009.
But to understand (and possibly help curb) the drug abuse problem in the United Kingdom, we first have to look at how illegal drugs made its way to this country, as well as how drug abuse statistics have risen over the years.
From Medicine to Illegal Drugs
It shouldn't be a surprise that the United Kingdom is considered one of the largest drug abuse countries in the world for cocaine. Up to 2 percent of the entire British population use cocaine regularly. This means that cocaine for them isn't just a party drug-it's a way of life. What started out as a tonic, or a cure-all for depression and other illnesses has morphed into the most abused illegal drug in the UK today.
Strangely, it is said that Pope Leo XIII himself advocated Vin Mariani, a French wine laced with cocaine, in the 19th century. He even praised its creator, Angelo Mariani, with a gold medal and lauded him as a 'benefactor of humanity' for mixing cocaine into a drink. In 1916, the renowned London shop Harrods, sold a kit called "A Welcome Present for Friends at the Front." This kit contained cocaine, syringes and needles.
Such is the tale of Ecstasy, (MDMA), which is reported to have been invented by a drug company in 1912 to supposedly help blood to clot. Though it had been buried under the radar, it was said to be rediscovered in 1970s by a scientist, Dr. Alexander Shulgin. In 1977, UK authorities identified MDMA as a Class A illegal drug. Despite the warnings, however, Ecstasy soon became a staple in the UK dance scene (or raves), resulting in the first MDMA-related death in 1989. Reports state that there are over 200 reported deaths due to Ecstasy in the UK during the past five years.
Such are the cases of other illegal drugs as well, such as heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis or marijuana. What started out as seemingly promising medicinal substances become used and abused, often causing more harm than good.
The Scary Drug Abuse Statistics in the UK
Although the United States ranks first as the country with the most number of drug abuse cases, the United Kingdom isn't far behind. Recent records state that costs of drug addiction and abuse in the UK amount to as much as 19 billion GBP annually. More alarmingly, studies also reveal that the use of crack cocaine in the country has increased from 58,000 in 2000 to 79,000 in 2006 alone. In addition, it was discovered that cocaine use has also doubled in the last seven years and has become the most popular illegal drug in the UK.
The problem is, more young people in the UK seem to be experimenting with illegal substances increasingly through the years. A study done by The Information Centre for Health and Social Care, showed that the use of illegal drugs increased from 6.9% in 2007-2008 to 8.1% in 2008-2009, among young adults between 16 to 24 years old in England and Wales. What's more alarming is that reports state that there has been a rise in Class A drug use among young people in the UK, with cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine topping the list.
The numbers say it all-the popularity of illegal drugs continues to rise in the UK, especially among the youth. As such, it should be the world's moral and civic responsibility to spread awareness about drug abuse to be able to combat this danger to humanity.