Four times more people tried cocaine in last 20 years

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It is estimated that the number of people who have experimented with cocaine has increased fourfold in the last 20 years, Justice Minister Anna Koukkides Procopiou said.

She spoke at a workshop organised by the Police and the Drug Law Enforcement Unit (YKAN) entitled “Illegal Stimulants – Persistent and Emerging Trends” at the University of Cyprus.

Procopiou said there is serious concern about the challenges posed by the consumption of stimulant drugs, as they are affected by recent global socio-economic changes that impact the deterioration of people’s mental health and social problems.

She said broad availability, affordability, use and combination of these substances are to some extent associated with behaviours that pose serious health risks, including overdoses, acute, chronic mental health problems and infectious diseases.

“It is estimated that the number of users who have experimented with cocaine has increased fourfold in the last 20 years,” said Procopiou.

“The 303 tonnes of cocaine seized in major ports in Europe and the illegal production of cocaine on European Union territory demonstrate the substance’s high availability and, at the same time, the criminal activity of organised crime groups as a major threat to society.

Criminal activities and the profits from such activities are a matter of great concern to the European Union.

“Funding that comes from such illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, even financing terrorist activities, is something that is always built into the security equation when trying to address such issues.”

Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou said this year has seen a large increase in seizures of illegal substances, with a record 500 kilos of a synthetic drug seized this week.