Latvia, Italy and UK Named Worst European Countries For Drug Use

By McCarton Ackerman 06/09/14

Meanwhile, heroin seems to be on the wane, though it's being replaced with increases in crystal meth and ecstasy use.

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The semifinal run of Ernest Gulbis at the French Open wasn't the only reason Latvia was making headlines recently. The tiny Baltic country joins Italy and the United Kingdom as being ranked among the worst countries in Europe for serious drug use.

The report, based on information submitted to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, ranked the three countries as having the highest rates of long-term drug injectors, as well as regular users of opioids, cocaine, or amphetamines. One-in-ten adults in Italy fall into this category, compared to 9.4 percent in the UK and 9.1 percent in Latvia.

Several other small European countries made noticeable appearances on the list. Estonia has the highest rates of adult meth use in Europe at 1.1 percent, while Netherlands leads the way in adult ecstasy use at 1.4 percent. However, the UK ranked second in terms of adult ecstasy use at 1.3 percent and it was found that two-thirds of regular club-goers in the country use the drug. And while heroin deaths are declining throughout Europe, it’s largely being replaced by a large increase in crystal meth and ecstasy use.

Meanwhile, London was named last month as the “cocaine capital of Europe.” The dubious title came after a European Drug Report analyzed the sewage systems of 42 European cities and found that London had the highest traces of cocaine. London’s sewage water contained 711 mg of benzoylecgonine, the main chemical in cocaine, per 1,000 people, compared to 393 mg in Amsterdam and 233 mg in Milan. For reasons yet to be explained, peak cocaine use in the city came on a Tuesday.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.