According to the European Drug Report, new methods emerged in the supply phase of drugs during the Covid-19 epidemic. Online drug sales have increased. Face-to-face shopping and drugs sold at parties decreased.
The report noted that new habits in use and distribution could pose longer-term problems for police across Europe.
Emphasized new developments were expressed as follows;
“Concerns about record seizures of cocaine and large quantities of heroin, increased production of synthetic drugs, high potency cannabis, new synthetic opioids and ecstasy tablets containing high levels of MDMA”
Increasingly larger quantities of drugs are seized
By 2020, seizures of increasingly large quantities of drugs were at the forefront of the main problems identified in Europe’s drug situation.
“Many indicators of the most commonly used substances indicate high availability of the drug,” said the report. and raises concerns about infiltration into major ports.
It was also stated that the role of cocaine in the drug problem in Europe is increasing.
The use of drugs taken at parties has dropped due to Covid-19
According to the report, there has been a decline in the use of drugs, often taken in ‘party settings’, due to restrictions imposed in some European countries. However, it was stated that the disruptions in the market supply chains caused by the restrictive measures may also have caused this.
Online drug sales on the rise
Restrictions in European countries have inevitably changed the way drugs are sold. For example, online sales via darknet markets, social media and encrypted messaging applications are the leading ones.
Less face-to-face shopping and less cash usage were also observed during the epidemic period.
Increased death rate from drug overdose in the 50+ age group
Another headline in the report was the high rate of drug overdose deaths among older age groups.
Between 2012 and 2018, deaths from drug overdose increased by 75 percent in the over 50 age group. In addition, a certain proportion of opioid cases in some countries may be associated with deaths from the use of opioids in the context of long-term pain management.
An estimated 20 million young adults are thought to have used drugs in Europe last year alone.
The report also touched on the economic impact of new distribution models developed during the pandemic on vulnerable communities.
Europol estimates that the European cocaine market is worth at least 9 million euros, while there are close to 4 million cocaine users in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
The Belgian city of Antwerp became Europe’s cocaine entry hub with 60 tonnes seized in 2019. In March, authorities at Belgian customs confiscated more than a ton of cocaine.