Europeans Need Drug Awareness Classes Too

by: Mike Miller

As the education director here at I am constantly on the lookout for articles involving drug use and abuse. There is no doubt that drug addiction is a global problem. Americans are not the only ones suffering from a surge in addiction to prescription medication.

More and more people in Europe are getting their fix from prescription drugs, including some used to treat heroin addiction, while heroin use in Europe is declining. As reported in

A recent report also warns of a flood of new synthetic drugs, and of established ones like ecstasy and cannabis becoming more potent.

As in America, our neighbors across the pond also suffer from the abuse of synthetic opioids - the class of drugs to which heroin belongs - including methadone and buprenorphine, which are used in substitution treatment.

Like heroin, they are addictive but safer, partly because they are taken orally rather than injected.

In 2012, 17 countries reported that over 10% of first-time opioid clients entering specialist treatment were misusing opioids other than heroin. The report warned of an emerging plethora of new substances, with 81 previously unknown psychoactive substances in 2013 to bring the total to 350.

Unregulated, they are marketed as "legal highs" or disguised as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner or even plant food.

Increasing Strength & Prevalence

The report warned that the strength of ecstasy and cannabis appeared to be increasing, as their active ingredients were boosted in the lab.

More than 80 million Europeans, about a quarter of the adult population, are estimated to have used illicit drugs at some point in their lives.

The study quoted a recent analysis of raw sewage in 42 cities in 21 European countries, which calculated that 832kg of cocaine were consumed daily in Europe's cities, led by Amsterdam, Antwerp, London and Zurich.

In Europe, it is estimated that one in four 15 to 16 year olds, is estimated to have used an illicit drug, mainly marijuana. Cannabis accounted for about 80% of the one million drug seizures each year, followed by cocaine and crack.

It is clearly evident that Europeans need greater access to drug classes. Given the easy access of the Internet, online drug classes might be the alternative.