In 2007-2008, 894 people in England were treated for a “cocaine-induced health emergency”, as opposed to 740 in 2006-2007 and 448 in 2003-2004. The number of people being taken to hospital as the result of using any kind of illegal drug has risen 45% in five years.
Over one million people in the UK use cocaine, the highest number in Europe, and health problems can include a rise in temperature, restricting of blood vessels, and in extreme cases heart failure.
The falling street price of cocaine is thought to be contributing to accidental overdoses, as people take more. Cocaine is also decreasing in quality, often being cut with other chemicals, making the user more vulnerable if they end up with a stronger strain.
A spokesperson for the Department of Heath said: “The government has invested £406 million for drug treatment in 2009/10, of which £24.7 million is available to support young people’s treatment.”