The EU’s Drug Report, released 6 June, revealed that cocaine usage has steadily been on the rise across Europe since 2017 while the number of seizures of the highly addictive narcotic has a record high in an increasingly competitive and dangerous European drug market.

Over 140,000 cocaine seizures totalling 140.40 tonnes cocaine  – double the amount seized in 2016 – were impounded by law enforcement officials.

New distribution methods that include social media and internet networks are some of the key components behind the rise of cocaine use. It is the most common illegal drug in Europe, with over 2.6 million young adults saying they used cocaine in 2017.

“There is evidence that the use of social media, darknet marketplaces and encryption, techniques enable smaller groups and individuals to engage in drug dealing,” states the report.

The report describes “cocaine call centres” where drug couriers provide fast, easy, and flexible delivery. The report says such centres are “indicative of a competitive market in which sellers compete by offering additional services beyond the product itself.”

Along with record level seizures, the report also links higher rates of cocaine use to growing health problems. There was an increase in the amount of cocaine residue in the tap water of Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands, and the UK, which some experts believe led to about 73,000 people entering drug rehabilitation programmes for cocaine addiction.