History of Drug Misuse in Europe

Drug misuse in Europe has a long and complex history that spans several centuries. The use of drugs for medicinal and religious purposes can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. In the Middle Ages, the use of opium and other drugs was prevalent in Europe, and by the 19th century, opium and cocaine were widely used in European society. In the early 20th century, the use of amphetamines and barbiturates became more common, with many individuals using these drugs to increase productivity and improve mood.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of the counterculture movement, which led to an increase in the use of drugs such as marijuana and psychedelics. This period is also associated with the beginning of the opioid epidemic in Europe, as heroin started to be widely used in cities like London and Paris. In the 1980s and 1990s, the use of crack cocaine became a major issue in many European cities, particularly in the United Kingdom and Spain.

Today, the most commonly used drugs in Europe are cannabis, cocaine, and ecstasy. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the European Union, with about 20% of adults aged 15-34 having used it in the last year. Cocaine is the second most commonly used drug in Europe, with about 5% of adults in the EU having used it in the last year. Ecstasy is the third most commonly used drug, with about 2% of adults in the EU having used it in the last year.

In recent years, the misuse of prescription drugs and synthetic drugs has also become a growing problem in Europe. According to the EMCDDA, the non-medical use of prescription drugs, particularly opioids, is a significant concern in several European countries. The rise of new psychoactive substances (NPS) or synthetic drugs is also a concern, as these drugs are often more potent and dangerous than traditional drugs.

Efforts to address drug misuse in Europe include harm reduction strategies, such as needle exchange programs and opioid substitution therapy, as well as law enforcement and education campaigns. The EMCDDA also provides important data, information, and analysis on the drug situation in Europe, which is used to inform and support European Union and national drug policies.


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