Double the number of Brits die from drug overdoses compared to rest of Europe

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New research has shown that twice as many Brits die from drug overdoses than in the rest of Europe.

The EU drugs agency has revealed that the available number of legal highs across Europe is rising with 651 websites ready to sell 350 substances. It has issued a warning that the increase in designer drugs available online has increased the availability of substances to consumers and dealers.

The latest report released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) indicated that the average mortality rate linked to overdose in the UK was 38.3 per million people, which is twice the average for other parts of Europe at 17 million.

Psychoactive substances, also referred to as designer drugs or legal highs, have increased from 73 during 2012 to 81 in 2013. In excess of 33% of these substances were synthetic cannabinoids which are designed to give the same effects as cannabis. An additional 30 compounds could not be categorised.

International law does not control these substances and many of them are mislabelled as research chemicals or plant food. The substances are often manufactured in India or China, however there are secret laboratories in Europe producing it.

The Home Office launched a review last year to look at methods of improving UK drug laws. Its final report is due for publication soon.

The Government placed bans on two psychoactive substance groups during December. Benzofuran compounds and NBOMe, Class B and A drugs respectively were banned.

Law enforcement agencies are experiencing problems with the strength of the drugs as it is possible to convert small amounts into multiple dosages.

The rate at which new synthetic drugs are being manufactured is becoming a massive problem for Europe’s Early Warning System.

Norman Baker, the Crime Prevention Minister, said that the Coalition Government is determined to eradicate the trade of legal highs as too many young lives have been lost due to it.

He said that there are hundreds of substances which were previously sold as legal highs that are controlled drugs in Britain. He further added that the UK is currently controlling in excess of 250 new psychoactive substances, including some of the 81 which have been reported by the EMCDDA for the first time.

Image Credit: Imagens Evangélicas

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