Is Cocaine use rising in the UK?

Posted by Dr Mike Garside on

How common is Cocaine use in the UK?

Cocaine use in UK workplace drug testing

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), cocaine use in England, Wales and Scotland increased by a massive 290% between 2011 and 2019 There is yet no evidence this rise has been dented by the pandemic.

Powder cocaine is now the most commonly used stimulant in the UK and the second most common drug of abuse only to Cannabis, with an estimated 976,000 regular and occasional users in the UK per year.

Although crack is less prevalent than powder cocaine it is estimated that the UK has the highest rate of Crack use per 100,000 population of any European country. Most Crack is also used as a secondary drug of abuse, so not in isolation.

How common are deaths from Cocaine use?

Powder Cocaine also accounts for a substantial and rising percentage of drug related deaths. In 2012, drug-related poisoning resulted in 46.6 deaths per million people. By 2019, there were 76.7 deaths per million—the highest rate ever, and a 61% increase since 2012.

By 2018, cocaine was mentioned in 637 drug-related deaths registered in England and Wales

What is the cause of all this..

  • Increased availability
  • Increased affordability
  • Record-high purity

The street purity of cocaine powder at user levels decreased from 51% to a low of 20% between 2003 and 2009. By 2018 the purity had rocketed to 63% making drug related poisoning far more likely.

What does this mean for workplace drug testing programs in the UK?

Now firmly established as the second commonest street drug in the UK it is critical that any program of drug testing includes a robust and accurate screen for Cocaine and its metabolites.

When selecting a rapid screening drug test either saliva or urine for workplace drug testing, look for a drug test panel combination which includes cocaine and which also detects benzoylecgonine its primary metabolite or break down product, which extends the period of detection.

See our recommended workplace drug testing kits


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