EU drugs watchdog warns of 'legal highs' surge

The rapid emergence of synthetic new drugs, often sold online as "legal highs," represents a significant challenge for policy makers in the coming decade, a European Union drugs agency said Tuesday.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and said in its annual report that while cocaine use across Europe may have peaked, and that ecstasy and amphetamine use is stable or declining, new synthetic substances are continually being developed.

So far this year, 39 new substances have been reported to the European early-warning mechanism, with another 41 identified in 2010.

"Europes drug policies and responses must now be configured to face the challenges of the next decade," agency director Wolfgang Goetz said in the report.

The biggest difficulty for authorities is the large number of online stores offering "," including a record 600 shops touting .

One such drug, the synthetic stimulant mephedrone, is frequently sold online and through illegal networks, the report states.

"The fast-moving and increasingly joined-up world we live in is mirrored by an increasingly fast-moving and joined-up drug market which appears quick to adapt to both threats and opportunities," Goetz said.

The report is more optimistic with cocaine trends. It states the drug's high street price and the financial crisis have prompted a cutback in among young adults in several countries including Britain, Denmark, Spain and Italy -- a trend that's also been observed in Canada and the Unites States.

Cannabis remains Europe's most popular illicit drug in Europe, though its use is decreasing among youths.

Amphetamine and ecstasy use is also stable or in decline, the report states.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia: Ecstasy loses its shine

May 10, 2011

Ecstasy, one of the most popular "recreational" drugs in Australia over the past two decades, is becoming less popular with regular users, consistent with global trends, say the authors of a new report from ...

White House warns of 'bath salt' stimulants

Feb 02, 2011

President Barack Obama's drug czar warned Americans Tuesday about the growing threat of designer drugs marketed as "bath salts" that are in fact dangerous amphetamine-type stimulants.

Cannabis link to other drugs

Jul 19, 2011

Quitting cannabis use in your 20s significantly reduces the chance of progressing to other illicit drugs, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

EU wants ban on killer drug suspect 'meow meow'

Oct 20, 2010

The European Commission Wednesday called for a ban on suspected killer drug mephedrone, a popular ecstasy-like party drug known as "meow meow", sold on the Internet and available in 12 EU nations.

Recommended for you

Preterm children's brains can catch up years later

48 minutes ago

There's some good news for parents of preterm babies – latest research from the University of Adelaide shows that by the time they become teenagers, the brains of many preterm children can perform almost as well as those ...

Mortality rates increase due to extreme heat and cold

1 hour ago

Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that death rates rise in association with extremely hot weather. The heat wave in Western Europe in the summer of 2003, for example, resulted in about 22,000 extra deaths. A team ...

It takes more than practice to excel, psychologist reports

2 hours ago

Case Western Reserve University's new assistant professor of psychology Brooke N. Macnamara, PhD, and colleagues have overturned a 20-year-old theory that people who excel in their fields are those who practiced the most.

User comments