Young Bulgarians have used mostly cannabis in the last year, but heroin sends the most people to clinics, according to the annual report of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
Cannabis have tried 10.3% of people between the ages of 14 and 34; followed by MDMA with 3.1% and amphetamines by 1.8%. The percentage has grown in recent years, starting at around 3% in 2005.
However, 58% of those entering the rehabilitation clinics used mainly heroin, 13% amphetamines and 10% cannabis.
Heroin – fewer new drug addicts, but more dangerous
The number of new cases of heroin treatment demand is small compared to the past, the levels of injecting use are decreasing and in the last decade the number of new cases of HIV infections associated with injecting drug use decreases each year by about 40 %.
But in a number of countries, especially in Eastern Europe, providing effective harm reduction and treatment measures is still insufficient. In addition, there has been a general increase over the past 5 years in the number of drug-related deaths, and this increase affects all age groups over 30 years. Drug delivery indicators reveal that the threat is likely to get worse, according to the report across Europe.
Laboratories for the production of morphine heroin using acetic anhydride, together with an increase in the number of seizures of morphine and opium, have shown that some heroin seizures are now being produced closer to consumer products than in recent years in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, markets in Europe.
More synthetic opioids
The currently developing opioid epidemic in the United States and Canada is mainly associated with the use of synthetic opioids, in particular fentanyl derivatives. This is not the case in Europe, but there are concerns in this area, warns the agency. About 50 new synthetic opioids have been reported through the EU Early Warning System for new psychoactive substances.
Many of these substances are associated with acute poisonings and deaths. Some of them, such as carfentanil, have extremely high potency, which means they can be transported illegally in very small quantities that are difficult to detect while being sufficient to produce thousands of doses.
Furthermore, there are indications that synthetic opioids, which are commonly used as medicines, are becoming more important for the drug problem in many parts of Europe; these include drugs used for substitution therapy and painkillers.
The cocaine market is growing
Both the number of seizures and the seizures of the drug are currently at record levels. Cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes, but among them is the increase in the traffic of large shipments carried by containers through major ports. Increased accessibility of the drug is also reflected in the highest ratings for the last decade of cocaine purity at the retail level.
Small groups using different information technologies such as data encryption, anonymous sale websites, social media for distribution, and cryptocurrency has entered the market. The entanglements of participants in the competitive cocaine market are reflected in the observed innovative distribution strategies, such as telephone service centers dedicated exclusively to the spread of cocaine. These new methods seem to reflect to a certain extent the technological changes observed in other areas affected by the mass use of smartphones: a potential “censorship” of cocaine trade – a competitive market where vendors compete by offering additional services such as flexible capabilities for fast delivery
Since 2014, the number of new cocaine-treated patients, albeit still relatively small, has increased by more than 35%, with an increase reported in about two-thirds of countries.
Cannabis is one of the most well-established drugs in Europe. This is the most widely used illicit drug, with almost 20% of those in the 15-24 age group reporting that they have used cannabis for the past year. At international level and within Europe, cannabis continues to be a topic of considerable interest from policy-makers and the public, and the emerging trends are a source of debate about how society should counteract this substance.
Participation in the cannabis market is often a driving force for juvenile delinquency as well as a source of revenue for organized crime. At the same time, our understanding of the potential health risks associated with cannabis has evolved, especially among young people. Currently, cannabis is the substance most commonly cited by drug treatment centers as the main reason for seeking help.