The rapidly growing demand for cocaine in Europe has primarily facilitated the trafficking of illicit drugs throughout West Africa. While cocaine usage has steadily declined in the United States over the last decade, it has quickly grown to become the second most commonly used illegal substance in Europe, behind cannabis, with over three million young adults consuming it each year. European drug experts assert that smugglers have developed increasingly sophisticated methods for transporting the drug into the continent “that involves incorporating cocaine into beeswax, fertilizer or clothing, [and having] extraction laboratories then release the drug.”
Over the last decade the United Kingdom has been the largest contributor to Europe’s cocaine boom. In 2010 the UK had Europe’s highest cocaine prevalence rate amongst young adults, with 6.2% claiming to have tried the drug within the last year, compared to just 4.5% of Americans. Moreover, over 15% of citizens 18-34 responded that they had tried the drug at some point in their lifetime. As one might expect, the spread of cocaine abuse throughout the U.K.- including the growing popularity of crack cocaine in London- has led to a sharp increase in the annual number of cocaine related deaths, which doubled from 161 in 2003 to 325 in 2008. For more information about the spread of cocaine in the U.K. check out this Guardian Article.